Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Cyber Week Tel Aviv University Conference.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Israel has used its cyber intelligence capabilities to thwart around 50 ISIS terrorist attacks in dozens of countries worldwide, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on Wednesday.
While Israel previously disclosed that it had provided the intelligence to thwart an ISIS plot to bomb a United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, Netanyahu revealed that the intelligence that broke the case was obtained through cyber tools.
He said that while he could not give specifics, the audience could “multiply by about 50” the Sydney airline terrorist plot, and that would be the number of terrorist plots worldwide (mostly by ISIS) that Israel has helped to prevent thanks to its cyber intelligence powers.
“The plane from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was not going to be hijacked but exploded in midair,” he said. “We used our cyber tools to discover that ISIS was going to do this, and so we alerted the Australian police and they stopped it before it could happen.
“This particular incident I can talk about because it was leaked to the media,” Netanyahu said. “If you multiply that by 50, it will give you an idea of the contribution that Israel has made to prevent major terrorist operations, especially from ISIS, in dozens of countries. Most of those cases were foiled because of our cybersecurity operations.”
The prime minister said that the world is in the midst of a cyber revolution due to new trends in big data, artificial intelligence and connectivity.
He said that Israel is thriving by being at the forefront of applying these areas to industries, from the auto industry to health to agriculture.
Netanyahu said Israel was too small to compete in the car industry in the past, but as cars become mostly computers, it is penetrating the industry.
He credited much of Israel’s punching above its geographic size to the country’s primacy in cyberdefense, which in turn stems from Israel’s unique investment in its Military Intelligence, Mossad and Shin Bet sectors.
Moreover, he said cooperation with the US is unbelievable and better than ever before.
The prime minister and his national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, also met with US Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to discuss the Iranian threat and cybersecurity cooperation.
Following Netanyahu, Israel National Cyber Directorate chief Yigal Unna introduced a new cybersecurity defense system to detect attempts to deface websites called Trackzilla.
Unna said that the new system is staggeringly successful, reducing the number of effective attacks by OpIsrael in April 2019 to 134, as opposed to 1,145 from OpIsrael in April 2018.
OpIsrael is identified with the international anarchic group Anonymous, and with pro-Palestinian hacker groups, and seeks to hack Israeli Internet sites with the goal “to disconnect Israel from the cyber world.” It has been a recurring annual coordinated series of cyberattacks against Israel in the spring in recent years.
Yaron Wolfsthal, head of IBM’s Cyber Security Center of Excellence, and Dana Ohayon, security sales manager for IBM Security, came to Cyber Week with the intention of learning and contributing to the growth of the cybersecurity community in Israel.
“Israel is an ecosystem of security innovation,” Wolfsthal said. “We are here to see the latest from people and to hear interesting new developments.”
At the end of the panel, Herel noted that the listeners – who come from dozens of security teams, universities, and other institutions – have their work cut out for them.
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