Netanyahu: Israel is creating an Iron Dome in cyberspace

PM tells Cybertech Global 2023 conference in Tel Aviv it will combat the increase in cyberattacks from hostile foreign governments


Israel is creating an Iron Dome in cyberspace to combat the increase in cyberattacks from hostile foreign governments, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this week.

“Cyber warfare is in its infancy,” he said, speaking by video at the Cybertech Global 2023 conference in Tel Aviv.

He said the IDF is building a school for computer science in Be’er Sheva, and a specialist unit will train some 20,000 youngsters in the cyber field.

The event brought together the world’s cyber leaders, with nearly 20,000 participants from 86 countries.

Among them was former CIA director David Petraeus, who told the JC the world should be very concerned about cyber threats although there had been “great strides” in the field, citing the war in Ukraine.

He said: “Russia threw everything at Ukraine and also at the United States and some other western countries at the beginning of the invasion, but Ukraine proved to be much more resilient and capable and the same was true of the US.

“But it was a success not just of government agencies and capabilities, but of those working in the industry as well. Microsoft, for example, played a very significant role, which is not surprising given their ubiquitous nature in terms of the products they have.

“That doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. The threat continues to evolve and is ever more diabolically clever. Attacks continue on a daily basis. You see governments responding in impressive ways. The UK, with its national cyber security centre, really was ahead of the rest.”

He described Israel as one of the greatest tech hubs in the entire world, which is in the process of “transforming from being a start-up nation to a scale-up nation”.
Petraeus, who was CIA director from 2011 to 2012, called the tech industry in Israel “extraordinary”.

He went on: “A lot of us come here to see what the emerging start-ups are and identify those with which we can partner.”

The three-day conference was the first time governmental cyber executives from Israel, the US, the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain had gathered on stage together. They said the new collaboration between the countries was the start of a new-found trust.

The conference also featured talks on entrepreneurship and investments in cyber in light of the global recession; the wars of the future against the backdrop of cyber warfare’s constant growth; fake news and AI in cyber; and cyber developments in smart transportation, health, aviation and fintech.

Economy Minister Nir Barkat, himself a successful high-tech entrepreneur before he went into politics, addressed the issue of the recent protest by high-tech workers against the government’s proposed Supreme Court reforms.

“We must separate economics from politics,” he said. “There is a lively discussion here and conclusions about something that has not yet happened and is still in progress. I do not see an effect from the proposed changes, because investors are interested in the best entrepreneurs, the best ideas and the best solutions. This is what drives them.”

Referring to the next challenges for Israeli high-tech, Mr Barkat added: “We need to invest in entrepreneurs and listen to what they have to say.

“Our main challenge is to help them expand into additional markets. Today there is cyber in every field and our goal is to help make Israeli entrepreneurship accessible to all fields in the world on a global level.

"Another dimension is involvement in education. We need to make knowledge and technological entrepreneurship accessible to young people.”
Cybertech founder Amir Rapaport said:

“The unprecedented number of participants reflects the massive growth in cyber since January 2020.”

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