Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has named Yigal Unna as his choice for heading the National Cyber Security Authority.
Unna, whose appointment was announced on Friday, previously headed the Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) cyber and technology division from 2014-2017 and was also a longtime veteran of the IDF’s Unit 8200, “Israel’s NSA.”
While in these units, he gained extensive experience in combining cyber expertise with other intelligence tools as well as in carrying out operations in the field.
Although the cabinet still needs to approve the appointment, cabinet approvals of positions like these, where the prime minister is nominating the candidate, are generally considered guaranteed.
In June 2017 Unna was appointed as division chief within the National Cyber Security Authority.
Netanyahu said that Unna “has tremendous experience in every facet and branch of cyber within the defense establishment. I am convinced that he will bring his rich experience to bear in continuing to build the cyber authority and in successfully confronting complex security challenges [faced by the country].”
Unna comes into office as the founder of the prime minister’s Cyber Bureau, Evyatar Metania, steps down after running the bureau from 2011 and as founder of the National Cyber Defense Authority, Buki Carmeli, steps down after running the authority since 2016.
Metania started the idea of creating a national cyber strategy and a broad civilian coordination authority, while Carmeli’s job was working on the actual operational cyber defense.
Collectively, the two units that they ran took on many of the cyber roles that had been previously handled by the Shin Bet. There were even behind-the-scenes struggles reported between the Shin Bet and the new young authorities in past years.
Though the civilian authorities ultimately took over the role of protecting the national infrastructure from cyber attacks from the Shin Bet, many other authorities remained with the security agency.
Also, as a Shin Bet alumna, Unna’s ascent to control all civilian cyber issues as Metania’s and Carmeli’s authorities merge, means that effectively the Shin Bet or its alumna are controlling all of the state’s cyber defense arms.