Cyber Week 2017 highlights latest breakthroughs in cybersecurity
“We are all targets!” said Gil Shwed, inventor of the modern firewall and founder and CEO of Check Point Software, of the extensive threat posed by online attacks at the opening plenary of Cyber Week held at Tel Aviv University on June 26, 2017.
Now in its 7th year, the conference is seen as a key fixture in the global cybersecurity calendar. This year’s gathering exceeded 13,000 attendees from more than 60 countries, including some 300 speakers: leading cyber experts, academics, startup founders, and senior government officials, most notably Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The summit was hosted by TAU’s Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC), TAU’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, and the National Cyber Directorate of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office. Fifty sessions including panels, workshops, forums and competitions were spread out over the five-day event.
Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that Israel is hit with dozens of cyber attacks every month. He spoke of the importance and urgency of cybersecurity, both in terms of the threats but also the “endless business opportunities” it presents. “In this fast-growing market companies are continuously added and weeded out,” and so they must be “speed chess players. This is what Israel excels in. It's a great advantage today in this business to come from Israel."
Other notable speakers included former New York City Mayor and informal adviser on cybersecurity to the White House Rudy Giuliani, who likened the fight for cybersecurity to defeating cancer: “Early detection is critical.” Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked joined a panel on incitement, terror and hate speech online. Thomas Bossert, Assistant to the US President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, announced the establishment of an Israeli-US bilateral cyber working group.
Pictured above: Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel presents Gil Shwed with the inaugural Outstanding Achievement in Cyber award. Credit: Chen Galili
The future of artificial intelligence (AI) was a hot topic at this year’s meeting. “AI is going to be made by people. It’s only as good as we make it,” said ICRC Strategic Advisor and founder and CEO of Cycuro, Matan Scharf. Rick Echevarria, Intel’s VP of Software & Services Group, called for a redefinition of AI: “‘Artificial intelligence’ should be called ‘augmented intelligence’ when it allows people to keep doing their jobs.” Echevarria also praised Intel’s ongoing relationship with TAU: “Our collaboration here is going to be very important to our user road map.”
Two prestigious awards were presented during Cyber Week. Gil Shwed, a TAU Honorary Doctor and Governor, received Cyber Week’s first annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cyber. Major Gen. (res.) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, director of the ICRC and Cyber Week Chairman, was appointed an Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy by the Italian Ambassador to Israel, Francesco M. Talo, for his leadership and achievements in cybersecurity. Prof. Ben-Israel discussed some of the challenges facing the global cyber community, including the shortage of skilled practitioners. Israel isn’t immune to this trend, but its education system is stepping up to the plate. “Israel is the only country where you can choose cybersecurity as a subject in high school,” he said.
Reflecting on the week, Australian delegate Gleuto Serafim, founder and CTE of Tecala Group, said: “I’d like to thank Israel for sharing so much of its technology and know-how with us.” He added, “It is awesome to be together with so many professionals and academics to discuss artificial intelligence, defense, security, and all the challenges we are about to face with IoT (Internet of Things).”
Participants in The Cyber Challenge in action. Credit: Chen Galili