Arrivals: Securing his own freedom in Israel

A profile of Michael Cina, 40, who moved with his family from Glasgow, Scotland to Kfar Saba in 2013.

Michael Cina  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Michael Cina
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Cina family came home to roost in Kfar Saba in 2012, with their three small children and two dogs. Actually, that wasn’t a first-time event. Michael, a fourth-generation Scot from Glasgow, had lived here briefly as a five-year-old child. Though that early stay disturbed his childhood calm, it gave him a basic working knowledge of Hebrew.
Open to new experiences, Cina spent a year of high school in Oklahoma City as a foreign exchange student, “a different extreme altogether,” and also traveled around the UK. In his early 20s he planned to visit Israel as a first stop on a round-the-world trip.
Plans changed when he met his Israeli wife, a primary school teacher, while volunteering at an animal shelter in Jerusalem.
After their marriage, the couple lived in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, where two of their children were born. Cina, armed with a business background, got involved in information technology; he attended courses and taught himself a lot.
“There was a big gap in the area of computer repair and support for English speakers, so I set myself up in business, built up an Anglo-based client list and took it from there. I also worked in Hebrew,” he recalls. Unfortunately, the hi-tech industry crashed in the year 2000.
After a period of struggle the family went to Scotland in 2005, staying for seven years. This enabled Cina’s wife and children to experience a different environment, and spend time with his parents and elderly grandfather.
Although Cina started out in the hotel management sector in Glasgow, he felt dissatisfied. “I worked in hotels in Scotland from 1993 to 1996. Though I liked working with people, I didn’t enjoy that type of work – so I switched to IT, working for companies and organizations.”
The Cina family’s return to Israel in 2012 was inevitable. “I’m not here for any ideological or Zionist reasons,” he reveals. “There’s a real sense of freedom here. There’s a lot more challenges, but I feel a lot more alive. In Scotland I found the lifestyle slow and boring.”
Though well-planned, their aliya was not totally smooth. “It’s a completely different reality when you come out here. You are focused on settling the kids; you do what you need to survive. I did the research in Scotland about job hunting but found no real correlation between reality and the Internet ads. It’s who you know, more than what you know.”
On the plus side, they could get together and socialize with family in Jerusalem and Haifa.
Yet Cina was adventurous enough to develop his own niche in computer support, management, consultancy and training. “My business has been up and running for over a year now, and I’ve had great feedback on my blog ScotPlanet. But it’s a slow process, and I am always looking for new clients,” he says, noting that in his spare time he likes to bike, walk with his dogs and read on his Kindle.
When Cina attends networking sessions with other Anglos, he often enlightens them on computer security.
“I would advise against posting a lot of personal information, including pictures of your kids, on Facebook and other media,” he says. “Keep it very, very private. Anything you post will be always available to somebody somewhere, and can potentially be used by other people to hurt you.
“Once sent, you can never get it back,” cautions Cina. “Be very careful and responsible about what you post.
There are people whose sole job is to research other people’s profiles; this is called data mining or profiling, and they can easily find out where you work and live, who your friends are, where your kids go to school. They can phone up your friends and extract information by posing as someone they’re not. Just as locks on your house can be broken, so must you guard against break-ins on your mobile devices and secure them with passwords, which you should change regularly.”
Email accounts, too, can be hijacked – and need secure passwords of at least eight characters that combine letters, numbers and special characters. “Use a separate password for each account you have,” he suggests. “If you use the same commonplace one, someone may decide to hack you, steal your identity, use your credit card details, access your bank account – and very soon you will be compromised. People have been bankrupted in this way! I deal with this on a daily basis, and recommend password management software so clients can store and remember lots of sophisticated passwords.
“I post a lot of helpful pointers on my blog and am working on a video series on YouTube,” he continues. “Security products should also be researched, and you may need several. Don’t assume that the most promoted security products are the best for your purposes.”
If that’s not enough, Cina also warns about going online in public places.
“There’s an awful lot of information there,” he says. “Today, it’s very easy to have your data stolen when using a public Internet connection such as those found in Internet cafes. So you need to make sure your data is backed up often, your computer is regularly maintained and your existing security software is actually working.”