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Why Has Israel's Cyber Security Sector Become So Successful?

Having overtaken the arms industry, it is a boon for online security

7Sep

An article published on August 1, 2015 in The Economist reported on the significant increase in sales of cyber-wares (cyber security) in Israel compared to arms exports. The reported fall in the arms trade was picked up by the cyber security trade in the country which made $6 billion compared to arms' $5.7 billion.

Part of this comes from Israel's announcement of the agreement with the IATI (Association of International Air Transport) regarding the joint development of booking system protection for airlines after repeated attacks by hackers. However, airlines are not the sole target of virtual hacker attacks. Financial institutions, banks, government agencies, medical institutions and communication through mobile phones, such as e-mails and text messages, are also common targets for hackers.

This raises the inevitable question, What is the importance of cyber protection, and is it necessary?

Firstly, we must consider the dimensions of cyberspace: the first - confidentiality of data such as information on a bank's financial accounts, which naturally contain confidential data about business practices. Hacking bank accounts causes significant damage and providing compensation after the event costs significant amounts, often meaning that it can take a significant amount of time for a customer to become profitable again. Moreover, the fact that there may be unauthorized access to confidential data increases the need to find an effective solution.

Similar problems are found if hackers publish confidential medical data. Distribution of medical data, has irrevocable implications regarding the personal and professional future of the patient. For example, a major hospital, was attacked by a hacker, which allowed somebody to access patients' personal information, including sensitive medical data. The data was made accessible to the public by simply browsing the site, which did not require a password or an ID to access.

The breach revealed the full details of more than a thousand patients including applications for psychiatric treatments, gynecological sensitive information, treatment history and detailed genetic information. Despite the Patients' Rights Act, 1996 which states that the rights of the patient requesting or receiving medical treatment is protected in regards to their dignity and privacy, in this case law enforcement is primarily an act of compensation after the damage has already been done.

Two areas where cyber security protection is crucial, are attacks on government sites and public buildings. Estonia and Georgia had several sites hacked in an attempt to destabilize the government, which caused tens of millions of dollars of damage when confidential information, included strategic plans, were distributed to the public.

Other examples are cyber attacks on smart phone services. Confidential information is encrypted by cell phones, but there is a need to protect communications sent from it, such as emails and text messages, that ought to be protected by devices and mobile configurations but often are not. By hacking the operating system of the mobile phone - sharing Bluetooth, multimedia messaging and other tools, a hacker can install Trojan horse software to phish confidential information from the phone.

It is clear that potential targets for cyber attacks require protection, such as business data protection, prevention of cyber attacks, regular stress testing and an in-house development of defense systems.

The virtual world needs to be protected in the some way as the physical world: through effective measures aimed at providing prompt and non-invasive protection to reduce or eradicate potential damage.

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