Cyberweek brings top Internet security experts to TAU

Threats, international cooperation discussed
29 June 2016
Trojan Horse. Credit Michal Roche Ben-Ami

Platform of platforms. SaaS. PII. Ransomware. Do you know what these terms mean?


If you do, you've probably heard of Cyberweek.  Tel Aviv University's international cybersecurity conference, now in its 6th year, attracted 5,000 delegates from 50 countries, constituting a veritable array of the world's top experts and cyber-celebrities. The summit, which took place June 19-24, was organized by TAU's Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC) and the Yuval Ne'eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security in cooperation with the Prime Minister's National Cyber Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Among the speakers were US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, as well as top officials from the UN, foreign governments, academia, and the private sector.


During the conference, the US and Israel signed a joint declaration on operative cyber defense cooperation. Under the agreement, Israel will be among the first countries to join the DHS Automated Indicator Sharing initiative, designed to create a platform between governments and companies to counter cyberattacks.


The volume of knowledge shared at Cyberweek was enormous, but throughout there was a feeling that the industry – and in turn the world – knows it must fight cyber threats, but it was only starting to understand how. This quandary is compounded by the fact that technology changes so quickly, said Major Gen. (res.) Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, director of the ICRC and Cyberweek Chairman.  For this and other reasons, global cooperation is critical.


Ben-Israel, considered Israel's cyber-pioneer, was an advisor to the prime minister and has been instrumental in increasing Israel's standing as a global power in the field. Similarly, Tel Aviv University was recently selected by the Israel National Cyber Bureau as the site of a National Cyber Initiative.

ICRC researcher Keren Elazari speaks to the plenary at Cyberweek 2016

In addition to ongoing lectures, Cyberweek featured specialized roundtables, workshops, the Cyberstorm Startup Competition, and a simulation session.  The bSidesTLV event had a decidedly more informal atmosphere, with a discussion focused on hacking and the importance of doing so ethically. Star US hacker Chris Roberts, sporting his trademark blue beard and kilt, reportedly received special permission to fly to Israel for the conference. Several airlines refused to let him fly after he allegedly took control of a plane while on board last year.


Alex Roitberg, an IT specialist who works in Jerusalem and a third-time Cyberweek participant, said he was very impressed with the "top-rate line-up of speakers."  The conference, he said, is an "opportunity to interact with well-known researchers and expand my horizons, beyond what I am normally exposed to."


To view photos, visit the ICRC's Facebook page.

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