Israel’s National Cyber Week Was Conducted as an Online Conference


Global cyber leaders and international researchers gathered on one virtual stage, marking the 10th anniversary of Israel’s National Cyber Week Conference, an initiative of Tel Aviv University’s Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event took place on a virtual platform

Cyber Week, which was held jointly by the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC), the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, Tel Aviv University, the Israel National Cyber Directorate under the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a leading international conference on cyber security.

Major Gen. (Ret.) Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Chair of Cyber Week in Israel, and Director of the Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at Tel Aviv University:

“Israel began its cyber revolution about a decade ago. The revolution was successful in every sense. For example, 22 percent of the world’s funds in the business sector in 2019 were invested in cyber security companies in Israel, as well as 29 percent in 2020. Now, more than ever, is the time to start the next revolution: the artificial intelligence revolution.

“Challenges and problems in the cyber field are often solved by technology. But we must bear in mind that the problems by themselves are not purely technological. Hence, one should take into account non-technological aspects in order to grasp the essence of the problems, before developing technological solutions to these problems.

“The National Online Cyber Week conference demonstrates how interdisciplinary the field of cyber is, and aims to include experts from different disciplines: computer science, engineering, law, business administration, psychology, economics, and even philosophy.

“The Corona era has further accelerated the prevalence of and dependence on computers, as well as computerized communications, in our daily lives. This poses a huge challenge as we become more dependent on computer technology, and thus creates more opportunities for hostile entities to abuse the cyberspace. Cyber threats are largely the dark side of computer technology.”

Yigal Unna, Director General, Israel National Cyber Directorate, Israel:

“The cyber weapon is a new phenomenon in the history of mankind. In ancient history, we had various weapons as knifes and spearheads that can kill. Though, the damage was relatively minor in the global scale. Then, mankind discovered the nuclear weapon that can cause catastrophes, but was very hard to produce. Now, for the first time in our history, there is something in between- the cyber weapon. It is relatively easy to produce and have the power to create a catastrophe at a similar scale to nuclear weapon and maybe even bigger”.

Gil Shwed, Founder and CEO, Check Point, Israel:

“We did a survey of our employees and customers’ employees that work from home. It turns out that less than 60% of the employees working from home have basic security on their machines. Your child may be playing on your computer or downloading something, and that same computer is used to access the core of the network. I think that as security professionals, we understand the implications of that.

“Now we have to think about what the next cyber pandemic will look like. If we use the pandemic analogy, we know the exponential growth involved; but in the computer world, it’s much worse. It’s not 3 days to double the number of patients – it’s between 3 seconds and a few minutes. The number of computers that one infected entity can cause is a ratio of about 27 to 1. Now we need to build an infrastructure that can both prevent the attacks and react quickly.”

“The COVID-19 ‘new normal’ is a gold mine for cybercriminals,” says Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, Microsoft Corporate Vice President; CTO, Cloud & AI Security; Israel R&D Center General Manager.

“As many millions of people worldwide shift to working remotely due to COVID-19, Microsoft is continuing to develop increasingly sophisticated tools to defend against the rising flood of phishing, ransomware, and other malware delivery systems,” she says.

“Since last spring, there’s been a pretty dramatic change in the way people work and communicate. We’ve seen two years of digital transformation compressed into two months,” notes Mark Russinovich, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and CTO, Microsoft Azure.

Another game-changer is the mass migration to cloud-based services, as companies scramble to expand their networks so that employees can work from home securely and productively. Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, protects these networks with a range of end-to-end solutions, including Sentinel, which underpins the entire security infrastructure, and Defender, an extended detection and response solution.

Microsoft’s threat intelligence shows that 241 countries and territories have been affected by COVID-themed malware. These cyber attacks have higher-than-average success rates partly because people are so overwhelmed with COVID updates that they often click without really looking, thus opening the door to an avalanche of malware.

Not surprisingly, this dangerous environment has led to a steep rise in demand for security services, all based on the Zero Trust strategy that underpins all of Microsoft’s cyber security solutions. This model treats each step across the network, and each request for access to resources, as a unique risk to evaluate, verify, and contain if necessary. By adhering strictly to a “never trust, always verify” policy, companies can ensure that people can work productively from anywhere in the world within a safe digital environment.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, since the threat landscape is constantly evolving,” says Russinovich, adding that Microsoft collects more than 8 trillion threats every month. “Once you get to that scale, there’s no way that humans can analyze that many individual threats to identify important incidents that need urgent attention.”

(Left to Right): Gili Drob-Heistein, Managing Director, ICRC, Tel- Aviv University, Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Corporation, General Manager of Israel R&D Center and CTO, Cloud & AI Security & Mej. Gen Prof. Issac Ben Israel, Director, Blavatnik, ICRC, Tel Aviv University. Photo Credit: Revital Yaron- Grober.

“In the new world, businesses must change their approach to security just to survive. But those businesses that truly transform their security approach will do more than survive – they’ll thrive,”said Udi Mokady, Chairman and CEO of CyberArk at the Cyber Week online conference. At the event, Mokady introduced the new approach to cyber security: Identity Security.

“Moving forward, identity is the new perimeter,” said Mokady. “Identity is what connects users to their devices and apps – which are themselves connected to data, systems, and services, also through identity.”

“In transforming their security, businesses need to employ an identity-centric security paradigm – one that will allow them to deliver secure access and privilege for any identity to any resource, using any device, from anywhere.”

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Jewish Review or its members.

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