Special report: Israel unprepared for 'dramatic uptick' in cyber threats

Much of the country is still heavily exposed to cyber attacks.

Police cyber crime unit (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police cyber crime unit
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Israel is woefully unprepared for the “dramatic uptick” in cyber threats confronting it, according to State Comptroller Joseph Shapira.
In a report released on Tuesday, Shapira explained that more and more of the country relies on electronic platforms, which are vulnerable to cyber attacks. He referred to the recent worldwide massive cyber hacks, and possibly to the cyber hacking interference in the US presidential election, to show the increasing volume and sophistication of the attacks.
The comptroller said that other than certain critical infrastructure sectors, which are well-protected, much of the country is still heavily exposed to cyber attacks.
Shapira’s report, which deals mostly with economic issues, also criticized the Education Ministry, after an investigation found serious deficiencies in the management of the ministry’s budget.
The report noted that the budget is one of the country’s largest, at NIS 48.9 billion in 2015, not including the budget for higher education, and at NIS 50.9b. in 2016.
The comptroller said the last few years have seen a steady increase in the education budget in comparison with other OECD countries, but that despite this, Israel still has one of the largest educational gaps in the world.
The report cited the need to optimize the budget to minimize gaps in education, and bring the Israeli education system up to par with other OECD countries.
“The government in general, and the education and finance ministries in particular, have a duty to optimally realize all the resources intended for the education system, while constantly reviewing the allocation and outputs and the degree of attainment of the government’s goals in the fields of education and society,” the report concluded.
In another section, the report said that the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets has “inadequately” prepared for the termination of its activities, set to end in December 2017.
The report found numerous failings by the company in tracking down and restoring assets to Holocaust victims’ heirs.
The company’s cost of operations up to the end of the year is estimated at some NIS 186m., most of which comes from the assets of those who perished in the Holocaust.
Since its establishment, the company has identified assets of Holocaust victims from various sources in Israel, totaling NIS 1.8b., although it has only returned NIS 280m. to heirs – approximately 15.6% of the total property located.
Shapira’s report also took a look at a number of infrastructure issues, including a critique of the country’s decentralized water corporations, the deficiencies of research institutes within the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry, malfunctions with the Transportation Ministry’s driver’s licensing department, and shortcomings in that ministry’s budgetary planning.
Another area of focus was the country’s natural gas distribution system, which the report described as failing to expand to meet the needs of consumers.
Shapira sharply criticized the government for the troubling rise in traffic fatalities over the past several years, finding particular fault with the operation of the National Road Safety Authority.
The comptroller also slammed the IDF for inadequate attention to safety issues, in particular the outbreak of fires and the failure to fully investigate them.
Moreover, he criticized the IDF for a lack of attention to proper recruiting and sorting of recruits according to their capabilities and potential contributions.
The IDF responded that it is already working on improving on both issues.
The report also contained a section on upkeep and oversight of building in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter.