What to Do When Everything is Vulnerable and Under Attack

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Highlights from Cyber Week 2021.



Israel’s 11th Annual Cyber Week Conference, this year hosted in a hybrid in-person and online format, was attended last week by 2,500 in-person and 3,700 online, among them top Israeli politicians, global cyber policymakers and executives from multinational companies and cutting-edge startups from more than 80 countries.

TAU Professor behind Israel’s ‘Magic Circle’ and Cyber Week

Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, Conference Chairman of Cyber Week, submitted a plan to the government in 2011 after his appointment by the Prime Minister to head a multidisciplinary task force in order to prepare Israel for future cyber threats. The plan outlined a solution whereby an entire ecosystem, or ‘magic circle’ was built (combining the forces of defense and government, industry and academia) to handle new and unpredicted cyber threats on a continuous basis. Ever since, the annual Cyber Week Conference at Tel Aviv University has been an important meeting point for experts from industry, government and academia across the globe.

Participants at Cyber Week 2021

Will The Iron Dome be Joined by A “Cyber Dome”?

In his speech at this year’s event, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stressed the need for further cooperation and invited other nations to join a global “Cybernet Shield” initiative to jointly coordinate the fight against cyber threats globally, stressing that “(…) if you fight alone you will lose, but if we fight together we will win.”

2020 was a rough year, with more than 300M ransomware attacks worldwide. Cyber warfare continues its rapidly growing military importance and global cyber security investment is skyrocketing, 80% of which went to US and Israeli companies. “Everything is vulnerable and everything is under attack” Bennett warned. 

Israel’s Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, expressed similar sentiments and called for a cyber-version of Israel’s famous anti-missile defense system, the Iron Dome, “Cyber is now a vulnerable space that must be protected like the sea, space, air, and ground”. He called for a no-tolerance policy by the Israeli government when it comes to cyberattacks, “Our message is very clear – be it a rocket, or a keyboard, we will not tolerate anyone to threaten our people.”

And the Winner of This Year’s Cyber Shield Award… 

True to tradition, also this year the Cyber Week Committee nominated a winner of the Cyber Shield Award, based on contributions to Israel’s cyber ecosystem. This year’s prize was awarded the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for their longstanding, inspiring and groundbreaking achievements in promoting the Israeli cyber scene and bringing Israel to the status of a global cyber power. 

The IDF is awarded the Cyber Shield Award. From left to right: Major General Lior Carmeli, Major General Tamir Hayman,  Gili Drob-Hiesten Managing Director ICRC, TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat and Prof. Isaac Ben Israel 

The conference is a joint effort by Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) and Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, and the Israeli National Cyber Directorate under the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

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