Eisenkot: Someday the IDF will be under one cyber command

Israel cyber chief: Until disaster happens, world will not have united cyber defense.

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (photo credit: MOSHE MILNER / GPO)
Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot
(photo credit: MOSHE MILNER / GPO)
Someday the IDF will unite its cyberoffense, cyberdefense and cyber collection abilities under one cyber command as the US has done, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Wednesday.
Eisenkot was speaking from the Academic Center for Law and Science in Hod Hasharon’s cyber conference being held jointly with the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), marking the publishing of a major book on cyber regulation by INSS fellow Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni. Eisenkot appeared to imply some regret that he was unable to make the change.
Even before Eisenkot became chief of staff, there was a major internal debate within the IDF about whether to unite or keep separate the key cyber functions – and the “uniters” seemed to have the advantage.
However, after an extensive process of consultation and negotiation, Eisenkot decided to allow the newer cyberoffense and collection units within IDF intelligence to remain separate from the traditional cyber and technological defense units.
His speech on Wednesday indicated that he personally believed there should be one cyber command like in the US, but that presently the conditions were not ripe for that, either because of the conceptual or technological disagreements between the disparate cyber units.
Earlier, Israel National Cyber Directorate Chief Yigal Unna said that until a disaster of global proportions occurs, the world will not succeed in its efforts to have a united cyber defense.
This means that “the chaotic race for data will continue at a crazy pace,” he said.
Unna asked: “What can we do to confuse cyberhackers? We need to keep changing fast in an adversarial artificial intelligence cyber arms race, adding that “a main critical infrastructure we need to defend is public confidence.”
Giving examples of disastrous fake news, including when hackers injected a fake story onto the Associated Press news feed that then-president Obama was hurt by a bomb in the White House, he said that the phenomenon needed to be fought on a range of levels.
In addition, he said that his authority would continue to invest in Israel’s cyber ecosystem – including education, science and development – as a critical long-term way of ensuring Israel can keep up with the cyber arms race.
High Court vice president Hanan Melcer said that cyber has changed the basic set up of rights debates which usually balance the government versus its citizens.
Melcer said that social media and other data holders are now a third party in this balance, adding that there were some circumstances where the government, following legal rules, might even need to hack into a private company to gain access to a terrorist’s phone when the company refuses and a full litigation process would take too long.
He also said that any new cyber regulation should be very careful about any new cyber powers it gives to the private sector due to the high risk of some private companies abusing the authority.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the conference that Israel must tailor its cyberdefense efforts wisely to the level of risk involved.
Giving Israel’s profiling at airport security as an example, he said such an approach would ensure that normal businesses continued to function while providing security.
A number of speakers debated the suggestions in Siboni’s book about incentivizing private companies to increase cyberdefense with tax incentives.
Some believed that negative incentives connected to the consequences of lax defense was a better idea, while others said there needed to be more thought about defending individuals and not just companies.
All of the speakers said that Siboni’s book had provoked discussion over cyber regulation to a new and necessary level of detail.