The U.S. just announced plans to team up with Israel, one of the worlds leaders in cyber security, to find better ways of stopping cyber attacks and hacking threats.
Thomas Bossert, President Trump’s assistant for homeland security and counter-terrorism issues, told reporters on Monday a joint U.S.-Israeli working group will start working right away to discuss ways of defending crucial infrastructure. “The agility Israel has in developing solutions will innovate cyber defenses that we can test here and bring back to America. Perfect security may not be achievable but we have within our reach a safer and more secure internet.”
The U.S. will be represented by experts from the FBI, Homeland Security, and the State Department to work on creating a new and different approach concentrating on detecting and stopping threats before they hit the web. The group will also try to find better ways to catch and punish the criminals who write the code and put it out.
The U.S. has worked with Israel before with missile defense projects like Iron Dome and David’s Sling that were jointly funded programs. “President Trump understands that the United States cannot lessen our engagement in this region or its support for Israel,” Bossert said.
The administration is expected to reach out to industry and university research groups and also make agreements with other partner countries, such as the U.K., in order to build cooperation internationally. Once there is more of a global agreement on goals and principles, it will be easier to “impose consequences on those who act contrary to the growing consensus.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, told those gathered at the conference that they face dozens of cyber attacks every month and are just as excited about working with other world governments to combat the growing threat.
Israel is a regional power with its very survival under constant attack. They have built a solid industry around anti-virus and other general cyber-defense technology. A key to the Israeli strategy is to always be on guard against threats of all kinds, online and off. Between private companies like Check Point, investment groups that focus on funding cyber security projects including Jerusalem Venture Partners Cyber Labs, and University associated research centers, “Israel is a cyber powerhouse with the right talent,” according to Dudu Mimran head of Ben Gurion University Cyber Security Labs.
Charles King, chief analyst at Pund-IT, says Israel’s government sponsorship of science has resulted in almost every major IT player building a research center in the country and that has enabled a ground up network to develop. “You could argue that this combination of factors—historical, political, societal and cultural—have all combined to make Israel a natural epicenter of security innovation,” he says. “It is certainly timely, especially considering the growing power and threat of global cyber attacks.”
One of the factors leading to better technology is the fact nearly every Israeli serves time in the defense forces. Once discharged, they bring advanced skills and knowledge to the civilian realm. Adallom, a company producing cloud security products, was started by three ex-members of IDF. Named after an area known from the Arab-Israeli Wars as “the last line of defense,” the company provides security to protect remote servers by monitoring the activities of individual employees and looking for patterns or discrepancies that might be a breach.
Another example is Check Point. Developed way back in 1993, FireWall-1 was one of the very first protections ever available for computers connected to the internet. It was written by Gil Shwed who served in the IDF’s signal intelligence unit. Check point came out a year before Cisco was formed and produced a firewall solution that used a GUI interface when all the rest were still stuck on the command line.
Microsoft bought Adallom in 2015 and the companies offices in Tel Aviv formed the center of Microsoft’s Israeli presence. British company Arm Holdings, that designs processor chips, followed suit soon after when they bought Sansa Security.
Israel’s cyber-security expertise is now valued as some of the best on the planet. With cyber warfare increasing every day including malware like wannacry most likely sponsored by North Korea, Israel continues to focus on preparation. Stephen Coty, director of threat research at a Houston security firm says Israel is one of few countries that teaches computer coding and app development in school. “In this way they are already raising the next generation of cyber warriors.”