US-Israel Form Bilateral Cyber Working Group To Thwart Hackers More Quickly

Thomas Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, announces US-Israeli bilateral cyber security working group at Tel Aviv University, on Monday.

TEL AVIV, Israel – A senior official in the White House announced Monday at the 7th International Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University that the United States and Israel had formed a bilateral cyber working group that would “stop adversaries before they can get into our networks and hold bad actors accountable.”

The announcement was made by Thomas Bossert, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The United States will be represented by Rob Joyce, Cyber Security Coordinator to President Trump, and Evyatar Mataya, Head of the Israeli Cyber Bureau. The details will be worked out this week during a series of meetings in Tel Aviv, the site the 7th annual Cyber Week, an Israeli inspired conference of world cyber leaders. MITechNews.Com Editor Mike Brennan is providing coverage of the conference as a guest of Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Bossert said the goal of the bilateral cyber working group is to work closely with Israeli government and cyber security businesses that are noted for their agility and innovation and take that knowledge back to America. The broad strokes include working together to identify cyber issues, advanced cyber security research and development, workforce development and other possible international cooperation. The end product will be to identify best practices. He added: “A safer more secure Internet is within our reach.”

A heady goal indeed. World governments and businesses are struggling to keep hackers of all shades – from cyber criminals to nation states – from penetrating their computer networks for nefarious purposes, ranging from harvesting intellectual property and financial information to bringing down vital infrastructure, such as power grids, water treatment facilities, transportation systems and much more. But it has been the hackers who have been more agile and able to infiltrate computer networks around the globe, while governments, business and even individuals try to prevent them from doing so.

Israel has had a long history – in Internet terms – in developing cyber security mitigation and remediation tools and strategies. As early as 2003, the Israeli government identified vulnerabilities in connecting its power grid to the Internet and figured out ways to keep it safe from hackers, Professor Issac Ben Israel – Head of the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Studies Center, said in a press briefing on Sunday. Ben Israel said since Israel was a first mover, it has held a strategic and knowledge advantage over its adversaries.

On Monday Mataya, Head of the Israeli Cyber Bureau, in another press briefing, said the fact that Israel is a very small country (the size of New Jersey) with a population of about 8.5 million people and constantly under cyber attack or threat of attack from not only its nearby Arab neighbors, but also nation states elsewhere in the world, has been forced to develop cyber security defenses quickly and has done so in collaboration with private Israeli industry – one of the reasons why Israel is home to hundreds of cyber security companies, including well-known Check Point, a 24-year-old company that produces products that protect computer networks and generates some $1.7 billion a year in revenue.

It’s this type of public-private cooperation that the United States seeks to better understand to help make its cyber defenses more responsive to the ever changing threats posed by bad actors around the world, and even inside the United States, Bossert said. A second aim of the bilateral cooperation pact is to better attribute where attacks are coming from so that punitive measures can be levied against the perpetrators, he said.

Coverage from Cyber Week and the private press tour of Israel’s cyber security infrastructure will continue this week. Day two of Cyber Week is Tuesday followed by a tour of Beer Sheba, Isreal’s equivalent of California’s Silicon Valley on Wednesday. Be sure to click on www.mitechnews.com for full coverage from Cyber Week.

MITechNews.Com Editor & Publisher Mike Brennan will be in Israel through Friday to provide complete coverage of Cyber Week 2017.