In May 2017, the world was stunned by a massive cyber-attack that struck over seventy countries. This attack, associated with the malware “WannaCry,” is an example of the ever-growing threat individuals and organizations worldwide are subject to, as our dependency on information-technology deepens.
Concurrently, and on the strategic level, we witness a new trend. Using IT-driven media and public information outlets, e.g. news outlets, social media, financial data providers, etc., evil players with new tools and methods are using cyberspace to skew public opinion, hamper morale, and shift awareness.
Cyberspace is an amalgamation of many spaces – private, public, governmental, and so forth.
Therefore, and rightfully so, the State of Israel considers protecting cyberspace a premier national mission. This objective has driven a three-tier pioneering approach – robustness, resilience, and national defense. Each tier plays a different role in efforts to mitigate threats, using a variety of intervention strategies.
A major milestone in implementing the strategy was the establishment of an operational body tasked to protect the civilian cyberspace – the Israel National Cyber Security Authority (NCSA) and its sister entity, the Israel National Cyber Bureau (INCB), which together form the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD).
Furthermore, to address technological challenges, and meet the goals of the NCSA and the State of Israel, the INCD established Israel’s leading entity of cyberspace technological developments – the Cyber Technology Unit (CTU). Its mission, is to actively lead the global cyber arms race, generate knowledge, foster human capital, and set up a national cyber infrastructure.
Israel has a robust cyber system:
the mandatory military service feeds elite technological units with young, enthusiastic Israeli millennials, charged with an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. As a result, today, some 300 cyber security companies are registered in Israel, half of which are start-up companies, established over the past five years. Furthermore, some of these companies have raised over $40 million, 10% have raised $20 million each, and five companies are traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Another thirty MNCs operate in and from Israel through their local branches, and last year alone, Israeli companies raised 20% of total global private investments in the field; all while Israel’s population is no more than 0.11% of the world’s total population.
Called to duty, the CTU’s purpose is to direct, encourage, and realize Israel’s cyber-capacity potential. The unit comprises a CTO division, whose essence is a forward-looking strategy and approach; an R&D division responsible for generating new concepts; a project management division; and a fourth division, in charge of cultivating and fostering national, human, academic and industrial resources, while maintaining, advancing, and enforcing Israel’s leading cyber standing.
Among the CTU’s core missions, is its objective to develop new paradigms and concepts which respond to national cyber security challenges, thereby mitigating the threats. Practice includes research, R&D, and implementation. Among the unit’s achievements, thus far, are its abilities to safely share knowledge between organizations, the establishment of national R&D labs, and the setup of operational infrastructure for the purpose of international collaboration. Also, joining forces with leading research universities has yielded the establishment of research centers, and the development of innovative concepts for measuring organizational cyber security posture, secured transactions, novel anti-phishing techniques, and more.
Still, and for all these efforts to be fruitful,
additional action is required on governmental levels. Therefore, the CTU works with various state agencies to arrange and promote export venues for the cyber security industry, since only an export-oriented industry will be able to withstand the national needs over time, and provide for the development of modalities that will disseminate industrial capacities into geosocial peripheries.
Human capital being the backbone of Israel’s technological capacity, the CTU invests considerable resources in maintaining and enhancing it, in both quality and quantity. A practical, forward-looking approach that corresponds with current national needs, implementation of scalable, dynamic, and adaptable mechanisms, together with its multiple high school, academic, vocational, and on-the-job training programs, will ensure and secure Israel’s standing as a global cyber leader. The CTU’s creed is to work towards and advance these core principles.
Mr. Yigal Unna
Chief Executive Director
Cyber Technology Unit
Israel National Cyber Directorate