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Cyber security: Governments urged to work with other players

Saturday February 1 2020

Dr Yuval Stainitz

Israel's Energy Minister Dr Yuval Stainitz speaking during the seventh edition of the annual CyberTech Global forum in Tel Aviv on January 29, 2020. PHOTO | FAUSTINE NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

FAUSTINE NGILA
By FAUSTINE NGILA
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IN TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

World governments have been urged to collaborate with the private sector, non-governmental bodies and professionals to achieve a holistic ecosystem of global cyber monitoring and coordination.

Addressing delegates during the seventh edition of the annual CyberTech Global conference in Tel Aviv, global cyber security experts warned multinationals and governments against going it alone in the fight against cyber insecurity.

Hundreds of cyber security companies from different countries camped at the Expo Center in Tel Aviv from January 28 - 30, 2020 to showcase their innovations in thwarting cybercrime during the international Cybertech Global 2020 conference.

The event constitutes a unique meeting point for decision makers, government officials, industry executives, entrepreneurs, major venture capital funds, investors and researchers.

A grand exhibition took place alongside the conference where hundreds of prominent companies presented their newest developments in Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Blockchain and Quantum Computing in blocking hacking attempts.

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The conference also paid critical attention to cyber threats on energy, as attackers devise more advanced tools to control social life even as hyper-connectivity in a rapidly changing technology space becomes inevitable.

Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the forum, Israel’s Minister of Energy Dr Yuval Steinitz stressed the need for governments to use Artificial Intelligence to proactively prevent nuclear terrorism.

“The near future of cyber defence must use AI,” he said adding that more emphasis is needed in protecting nuclear power stations all over the world.

“This is because the calamities that can be caused by attacks on nuclear reactors are beyond imagination. Rogue countries can create a lot of havoc to other crucial systems like communication and transportation,” he said.

He said if cyber criminals manage to paralyse the systems in the energy sector such as solar power stations, electricity transmission and water supply chains, it could be a total disaster.

Having detected a very sophisticated potential attack on power stations aimed at controlling and vandalizing Israel’s energy systems few months ago, the Energy ministry embarked on the construction of an energy cyber laboratory in Beer Sheva, the cyber capital in the southern region of the country.

Maj Gen (Res) Yiftah Ron Tal, Chairman of the Board, Israel Electric Corporation, said attacks are getting bigger and so is the necessity to defend against them.

He added that the future of the energy sector lies within decentralized smart power networks for better cyber security.

Predicting that 80 percent of power consumption and retailing will be on a blockchain by 2040, he underscored that any surface exposed to the sun will be able to generate energy.

“Through a decentralised system, every family will generate power for its needs and sell the surplus in digital tokens to the electric corporation. They will be both power consumers and retailers. Every home will own the grid system,” he said.

He also painted the picture of a future of energy where a multi-dimensional and sectoral power system will connect all devices, and termed it the ‘Internet of Electricity (IoE).

“Through an international peer-to-peer block chain platform, every power consumer will be connected and payments will be made as tokens of the Wattcoin cryptocurrency to give affordable power to 1 billion humans who live without power in all five continents,” he exemplified.

Blockchain technology has garnered a global popularity due its immutability, decentralised, enhanced security, traceable and data protection features.

However, he warned world governments that technology alone is not enough, since the modern cyber environment comes with existential threats, where 11,000 attacks per second are launched against power systems.

“The attack surface is endless. The border between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) is not clear anymore. Older systems are no longer unique. The world needs a real time collaboration in threat intelligence,” he told delegates of the second largest cyber forum outside the United States.

Director General of the Israeli National Cyber Directorate Mr Yigal Unna revealed that cyber insecurity is sixth on the index of the most potential risks to human life.

“The ecosystem has never been as complex and dangerous, but we have national initiatives to guarantee cyber security such as the hotline number 119 which citizens can call whenever they feel insecure. We respond immediately and keep monitoring cyber risk scores of attacks all over the world,” he said.

While no cyber defence mechanism can guarantee 100 percent of safety on the internet, the Israel tops the world with 95 per cent of live cyber security, according to Gartner.

More than 540 Isreali IT companies specialise in cyber security, contributing to 46 per cent of GDP in exports, according to Bloomberg.  The industry was born in the late ‘80s and has grown to be world’s destination for security in the web.

The Cybertech event, founded seven years ago in Israel by a a former military journalist, Amir Rapaport, is considered the largest cyber security event outside the United States.

Mr Rapaport said the quick growth of the industry and the Cybertech event shows that the cyber field is leading a historic revolution changing the global economy and the entire human race.

"Israeli companies have a major role in this revolution by developing new cyber technologies. The new record of international delegations at Cybertech, shows how the cyber revolution is happening," he said.