Israel's COVID pandemic ending, cyber pandemic worsening - cyber chief

By 2030, the world could lose up to $4 trillion to hackers, according to FireEye CEO John Watters.

A hacker is being depicted in this illustrative photo  (photo credit: Courtesy)
A hacker is being depicted in this illustrative photo
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) chief Yigal Unna, speaking as part of a joint virtual conference with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said that “Israel got out of the biological pandemic, but we will not get out of the cyber pandemic, it is just getting worse.”
Unna stressed that “we need to get stronger and work together… you cannot do it by yourself, not a single agency and certainly not a single country… only in community can you achieve cybersecurity.”
The INCD director stated that “cyber is not about computers, it is about people… we need to get into their malicious minds [of the hackers] and to be a few steps ahead of them.”
Unna made special mention of the UAE’s involvement in last week’s conference, though it is not a member of the OECD, calling it a strong friend and ally of Israel’s in the cyber and other arenas since the Abraham Accords last August.
OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann launched the conference, noting that while the digital acceleration of the past year presents exciting opportunities, there are also great challenges and risks involved, especially regarding cyberdefense and privacy rights.
Cormann stated that better ways of managing these challenges must be found, and emphasized the importance of cooperation in the field of cyberdefense.
Too often, responses to attacks remain local, although the attacks are of global nature, said Cormann.
He added that the more countries cooperate with one another, the more they can achieve a form of cyber immunity.
The OECD is an elite 38-country group that promotes economic progress and world trade.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz said, “Israel attaches great importance to its good cooperation with the OECD. As a member state that celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, Israel highly appreciates the joint activities with the organization, especially in areas where Israel stands at the global forefront, such as cybersecurity.”
“The corona crisis has demonstrated the crucial role digital security plays in ensuring the good delivery of public services, and how vulnerable these can become without the proper protection. A dire need is the mother of adaptation and innovation,” the Foreign Ministry director-general stated.
Ushpiz expressed Israel’s strong commitment to maintaining its digital infrastructure so that medical and other critical fields remain safe from the constant cyberattacks they already face.
Also, he noted an Israeli initiative known as “the corona network” which is a “digital platform for sharing information between countries in the fight against the virus” developed by Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit and the Health Ministry.
FireEye president John Watters warned that with the current growth rate of financial harm caused by cyberattacks, up to $4 trillion could be lost worldwide by 2030.
Following the hack of the US company SolarWinds, a major digital service provider for US government agencies and huge private companies, Watters suggested that, “risk should transmit up to the service provider… if you pay more for a more secure provider” there will be better cybersecurity and the service providers will grow more in the long term.
This is in contrast to the current culture of companies wanting to pay the least possible for cybersecurity which incentivizes digital service providers to also give less attention to the issue.
Watters explained that hackers were targeting service providers because they are an “economically attractive access point to a multitude of downstream opportunities… If you are successful with attacking that one entity, then you get to many entities,” who it provides services to.
CyberArk Chairman Udi Mokady said the biggest issue was with small companies who do not remotely understand the cyber threat and are just looking to “check a box” instead of taking ownership over the issue.
FireEye itself was the first hacked company which realized it and many others had been victims of the massive SolarWinds hack.
While some criticized FireEye for its own failure to block being hacked, many government agencies accredited it with catching the cyberattack, given that they did not.