Ex-Shin Bet cyber chief: Israeli cyber authority must be reconstructed

Former Shin Bet chief warned that there is no reason that the civilian sector cannot have more serious cyber protections the way that the military and the police provide them physical protections.

 Cyber attack (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Cyber attack
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Former Shin Bet cyber chief Erez Kreiner said on Wednesday that 10 years after being established, Israel’s cyber authority needs to be carefully evaluated and reconstructed so that cyberdefense is not neglected.

Speaking at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) conference in Herzliya, he said that the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) falls far short of what is needed both conceptually and practically for Israel to properly defend the private sector and the public.

Kreiner said that almost all countries are currently neglecting protecting the digital sphere beyond a limited list of critical infrastructure.

At best, he said some countries have recently started to create mechanisms for vague national cyberdefense lines, while still failing to defend the private sector.

Kreiner warns that Israel's cyber defense should not be ignored

Female IDF soldier in the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)Female IDF soldier in the J6/C4I Cyber Defense Directorate. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The former Shin Bet chief said that there is no reason that the civilian sector cannot have better cyber protection, akin to the protection that the military and the police provide them.

He explained that the failure to address these cyberdefense gaps has allowed both organized criminals and terror groups to escalate their cyber activities and attacks.

Kreiner warned that terror groups have only started to exploit this unguarded arena and that things could get a lot worse when terrorists dive deeper into these vulnerabilities.

When Kreiner said that there needed to be a body to handle these issues, he was presented with the fact that Israel already has the INCD; he responded that the organization, as it is now, is far from able to do everything that is needed.

The INCD has existed for around 10 years, and it has grown into different roles from 2016-2018 under then-head Buky Carmeli and again from 2018-early 2022 under former director-general Yigal Unna.

Current INCD chief Gaby Portnoy was asked by former prime minister Naftali Bennett to focus more on building international cooperation, though his predecessors had invested some of their time in this as well.

The INCD responded saying it “is fully focused on strengthening Israel’s cyberdefense – in the public and private sectors. Whoever wishes to relate publicly to our innovative activities, is most welcome to get acquainted with them in advance.”