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September 21, 2014 11:24 am

Netanyahu Likens New National Cyber Authority to ‘Creation of an Air Force’ to Protect Strategic Online Assets

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Israel Prime Minister's Office establishes new National Cyber Bureau. Photo: IDF

Israel Prime Minister's Office establishes new National Cyber Bureau. Photo: IDF

In an historic decision, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced plans “to develop a national authority on the cyber issue, to arrange and see to defending the entire State of Israel,” against an array of current and developing threats to critical “facilities and security agencies,” as well as “defend Israeli citizens against these attacks.”

Calling the move – which cut through months of inter-agency wrangling with the Shin Bet over areas of responsibility – no less than “the creation of an air force against new threats,” Netanyahu noted that the sea change would “not rely on this being carried out by existing agencies,” presumably referring to the Shin Bet or the IDF’s Signal Intelligence Unit 8200.

“We are in a new world; we are preparing with new forces. This has very major significance for the defense of the State of Israel in the future,” Netanyahu declared at his government’s weekly cabinet session.

The PM pegged existing Israel National Cyber Bureau Head Dr. Eviatar Matania to lead the development program, and tasked him with handing the Security Cabinet a working plan within 60 days, to establish the authority in a “multi-year plan in cooperation with the other relevant agencies.”

The new authority “will receive the necessary responsibility and authority to defend the civilian sphere from cyber threats and will constitute an operative agency that will act alongside the INCB,” according to a release from The Prime Minister’s Office.

“Dealing with the cyber threat on the national level in the coming decades constitutes a strategic challenge that all countries must deal with,” Matania said of the body’s estalishment.

“This is a historic decision. The establishment of a national cyber defense authority, alongside the effort to build advanced and unique technologies will bolster the State of Israel’s position as a leader in the field and make a major contribution to defending the economy and encouraging growth,” according to Matania.

Until now, the Shin Bet has looked after online security against internal and external hackers and computer-based infiltrations on water, electricity and national financial entities, and it is, at this point, unclear what areas will be transferred over to the new body.

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