Abraham Accords on track despite Iran tensions - Head of National Cyber Directorate

Several experts spoke during Thursday’s “Celebrate the Faces of Israel” conference on the importance of tolerance and diversity in cyber education and cooperation.

Abraham Accords on track despite Iran tensions - Head of National Cyber Directorate

Israel National Cyber Directorate head Gabi Portnoy explained the sensitive relationship between tolerance and cybersecurity at The Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem “Celebrate the Faces of Israel” conference in the capital yesterday. “We need a lot of tolerance these days in the world… In cyber, we don’t have any,” he said in an interview. He explained that the Counter Ransomware Initiative, a network of 37 countries collaborating to counter cyberwarfare together, is a much-needed breath of fresh air within the typically intolerant cybersecurity space.

“So, it’s a good thing that we are doing together, and for me, it’s tolerance.” He noted that another key aspect of international tolerance, the Abraham Accords, is on the right track as well, despite current cyber tensions spurred by Iran.

“I think this is an important relationship and we will embrace it as much as we can,” Portnoy insisted. “Think about what kind of cyber defense we are building against our enemies when we work together.”

Teaching cyber skills from a young age

In a following panel discussion, Orit Tatarsky, director of the Capacity Building Center at the Cyber Directorate, explained the importance of enabling children to improve their cyber literacy from an early age.

“We’re currently putting on a strategic national plan with regard to capacity building, alongside equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion,” she said, highlighting several principles guiding the organization in its efforts.

“The first is that we’re focusing on underrepresented groups. We’ve seen [that lead to] major success, and we basically want to scale the success,” she said. “The second principle is that we believe that educational continuity is a key factor to succeeding in gaining meaningful employment and social mobility. So we need to start early in junior high and give the kids experience and exposure.”

Sagy Bar, CEO of the Rashi Foundation’s Cyber Education Center, highlighted the success of recent Machshim cyber education program, which has led to the contribution of Israel’s periphery within the tech and cyber sectors of the IDF, which in turn leads to their ability to integrate themselves into the nation’s hi-tech industry.

“13 years ago, only 3% of the IDF’s cyber and tech soldiers came from the periphery of Israel. We thought ‘ that’s not right,’ so we tried to break the connection between the zip code of the kids and their futures,” he said. “13 years later there are more than 3,000 graduates, 65% of which are accepted each year to IDF tech and cyber units. And that 3% I mentioned has grown to 5% of the cyber units coming from the periphery today. Machshim has proven that offering an opportunity [to learn] can change reality dramatically.”