Israeli cyber warriors high in demand

From newspapers across the continent, Europeans are clamoring to work with the ‘Start-up Nation'.

IDF cyber warfare room 370 (photo credit: Courtesy IDF)
IDF cyber warfare room 370
(photo credit: Courtesy IDF)
While the Iranian ship headed for Gaza was the main story last week, stories in European press also unveiled a demand for Israeli “cyber warfare” and start-up competence. With ever more drones and unmanned robots with missile-dodging lasers joining the battlegrounds, “cyber warfare,” and “Israeli cyber competence” seems to catch attention in European media outlets. While the ability to sabotage industries or gain information is of strategic importance, so far people wanting to see combat units engaging in “warfare,” on any epic digital battlefield, risk being disappointed.
Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Labs – one of the leading computer safety companies in the world – stated that: “With today’s attacks, you are clueless about who did it or when they will strike again. It’s not cyber-war, but cyber-terrorism.”
Yet with Israel facing more than 100,000 cyber-attacks a day, and the American-Israeli Stuxnet virus which obliterated a fifth of the Iranian nuclear centrifuge in 2010, the “cyber war” illusion claim more territory of reality each year. According to Kaspersky and others, however, the majority of industry-hacking is done by independent and anonymous groups.
Sometimes though, as in the case of the Stuxnet virus, these hackers they play a role as modern-age privateers, funded by states typically refusing to admit involvement.
Both Kaspersky Labs and Matti Hyppönen from F-Secure asserted that the Stuxnet attack could only have been done with nation-state support. The Internet security company McAfee stated in its 2007 annual report that approximately 120 countries have been developing ways to use the Internet as a weapon and target financial markets, government computer systems and utilities.
The technological success of Israel seems to follow in the path of another prediction. The first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, believed that the future for Israel was in science, and that prophecy appears to have come true. In Tel Aviv, the culture has moved from nightclubs and bars to technological accelerators – boot-camps for programming – and incubators, where entrepreneurs can develop with mentors and support from larger companies. This culture has taken on its own vernacular, or called MOSES: Modern Original Start-up Entrepreneurial Syntax. “We’ve expanded from our R&D phase,” is one popular mantra or, “Oh yeah, we’re viral; we’re definitely viral next week.”
Jerusalem is no exception. With Mayor Nir Barkat – who spent 15 years in high-tech – as an example, the entrpreneurial start up spirit is not confined to the city on the sea. The European media cite Israel’s major successes in hi-tech as a byproduct of its military. Some of the most prosperous programmers are products of the IDF, having acquired skills that allow them to manage companies, think in innovative ways, and perform well under pressure.
Even under such intense pressure for success, some start-ups are characterized by their open and friendly work atmosphere; the stress comes from wanting to share the benefits of the product with everyone. For example, Python – the lingua franca of the programming languages – is characterized by its user-friendliness and appeals to a global audience. However, the niceties end when the rules come into play, as seen in the “Zen of Python” manual: Beautiful is better than ugly, explicit is better than implicit, simple is better than complex, and so on. While these rules most likely serve as instructions, they do present an odd existential element. One of Python’s commands, for example, is that special cases aren’t special enough to break the rules. Perhaps this could be conflicting in the code of Judaism, where one of the Torah’s guidelines is that human wisdom must either reject or accept the status quo. In any case, it is safe to say the entrepreneurs could use some divine intervention, with some 90 percent of all start-ups failing, they are involved in a risky algorithm, and there can only be room for so many 1s with so many 0s – a Stuxnet in its own right.
UN touts Israel’s IT start-up success
Deutsche Welle, Germany, March 6
In order to battle rampant unemployment numbers, Helen Clark, from the United Nations Development Program, has expressed interest in Israel’s “innovation nation” as a model to fast-track economic growth and job creation. On a recent trip to Israel, Clark met with 70 entrepreneurs. There, she underscored the importance of Information and Communications Technology which she thinks is going to be inextricably linked with other areas in the future. In addition to an interest in Israel’s growth model, Clark has a keen interest in developing countries. In the case of individual economies, she stresses the importance of growth through an “innovation framework,” in which she holds ICT the most vital. “It not only has real growth potential in its own right – but it’s an enabler among other sectors of the economy. ICT is really going fast – it’s going to be able to lift what you can do with education; it’s got applications for the health sector; business sector and productivity.”
Italy asks Israeli experts how it can defend itself against cyber-threats
La Stampa, Italy, March 7
A safety report picked up by one of the leading Italian newspapers acknowledged a first step towards a joint declaration of Italian-Israeli cooperation. In order to defend itself from “digital weapons,” Italy has created a structure of protection overseen by the military advisor to the president of the council, to oversee a newborn Cybernetics Core Security force. One of the other participant is the important Italian Department of Intelligence and Security. The cooperation does not only aim to strengthen cyber-warfare, in which the Israeli cyber- warriors are universally recognized as the best – the Israeli government disclosed it had suffered 11 million attacks a day over the course of four years, all of which were rebuffed. The report also seeks strengthening the partnership between Israeli start-ups and small and medium- sized domestic companies.
Investbraga seeks cooperation with Israel
Correio do Minho, Portugal, March 4
InvestBraga, an agency trying to foster economic bonds in Braga, Portugal, welcomed Tzipora Rimon, the ambassador of Israel in Portugal. “This is an excellent opportunity to establish a direct relationship with one of the most advanced countries of the world in technology, which [in turn] can boost our businesses, said Carlos Oliveira, CEO, also mentioning the Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory as part of a possible exchange in Israel. After the meeting, the ambassador of Israel proved to be very pleased with the draft submitted by InvestBraga. “There are interesting opportunities for cooperation,” he said, stating that Israel also intends to increase the trade, research and investments in Braga.