Digital Warfare: TAU on the Frontline
The means, methods and technologies needed to deal with cyber security challenges were the focus of TAU’s third annual International Cyber Security Conference, which took place on campus during the 2013 Board of Governors meeting.
Among the high-profile attendees of the Conference was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who characterized Israel as the “rising star” in the rapidly expanding field of cyber security. In his address to hundreds of foreign diplomats, international investors, military attaches, academics, business leaders and students, Netanyahu explained, “Today cyber is part of the battlefield. This is not the warfare of the future, it is already here.”
Netanyahu emphasized that Israel’s essential systems, including the country’s water, electricity, transport and banking infrastructure, are under attack. To defend against the increasing barrage of cyber attacks from Iran and its proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, he called for a two-pronged strategy. First, Israel needs to develop a “digital iron dome” to improve the country’s response time to cyber attacks. Second, it must create more international collaborations through frameworks such as the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop, launched in 2002 by TAU’s Prof. Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Isaac Ben-Israel, who is also Chairman of the Israel National Council for Research and Development at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.
New cyber study tracks
At the conference, TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter announced the launch of two interdisciplinary cyber study tracks – the first of their kind in Israel. Students from fields as diverse as engineering, humanities and social sciences will be able to explore the complex field of cyberspace and cyber security from scientific, academic, technological, ethical, legal, business and economic perspectives. A select few will also have the opportunity to take part in hands-on internships with cyber industry leaders.
Prof. Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of the Board of Governors, said that because of top research institutions such as TAU, Israel has already become the hub for innovative cyber technologies. “Now, the goal is to spread awareness about Israel’s knowledge and achievements in the field,” he declared.
In a separate session of the conference, President Shimon Peres reiterated that Israel must maintain its qualitative edge in technology and security. “Whoever thinks that victory in war will be achieved with weapons alone is mistaken,” he stressed.
Other speakers at the conference included Head of the National Cyber Bureau, Dr. Eviatar Matania, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Naftali Bennett, who underscored the government’s financial commitment to strengthening the field of cyber in Israel. Bennett announced that, in recent months, the Ministry granted NIS 16 million (US $4.4 million) toward cyber-related projects. He also unveiled a new project that will help soldiers specializing in cyber warfare to successfully make the transition to civilian jobs and thus continue to harness their skills and expertise for the benefit of Israel’s economy and national security.