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Cyber Week 2014: Netanyahu, Kaspersky, and Gold tackle cyber 'game-changers'

Industry leaders from around the world explore cybersecurity at annual Tel Aviv University forum

American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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IMAGE: This image shows Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Klafter, and Isaac Ben Israel at Tel Aviv University's 4th Annual International Cybersecurity Conference. view more

Credit: Chen Galili/AFTAU

Tel Aviv -- "I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that cyber defense solutions will serve as the essential basis for human development and economic growth in this century -- I think it's happening before our very eyes," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told leading policymakers and cybersecurity experts at the 4th Annual International Cybersecurity Conference, held at Tel Aviv University on September 14-15, 2014.

The signature event of Cyber Week 2014, one of the most important annual cyber events in the world, the TAU conference series presented the full spectrum of knowledge, methods, and ideas about emerging cyber technologies and challenges. The event was held jointly by TAU's Yuval Ne'eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, the National Cyber Bureau, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center (ICRC).

Boasting over 400 guests from 40 countries, the conference was chaired by Prof. Isaac Ben Israel, head of the Ne'eman Workshop, which has been providing reports to the prime minister, defense minister, IDF, chief of staff, and many more of Israel's decision makers for the past 12 years.

Security guru Kaspersky applauds TAU efforts

During one session, Eugene Kaspersky, head of Kaspersky Lab, one of the best known and fastest growing IT security vendors in the world, discussed the growing threats and demand for experts in the field, citing TAU as one of the singular institutions rising to the challenge.

"The dangers are much greater than they ever were, the solutions are much more complicated, and there aren't enough people in the field. Unfortunately there are plenty of jobs, and the demand is only going to increase," Kaspersky said. "Since we are speaking at an educational institution, I want to emphasize the importance of education in prevention, but especially to develop professionals who can help develop the defenses we need to survive as a society. I have been doing this for 25 years, and I lie awake at night worrying about what is, and even worse, what could be."

Wide-ranging solutions to urgent problems

Addressing the attendees, Prof. Ben Israel said, "Israel is a target of so many hostile entities, which include anyone who hates the West and anyone who really hates Israel. Unfortunately, Israel has a lot of experience dealing with such threats. This conference will address these and more."

In his opening remarks, TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter noted that the conference participants were attracted by the "wide-ranging reputation and impact of the Yuval Ne'eman Workshop led by Prof. Ben-Israel and because of the broad interdisciplinary scope of the speakers and research projects presented."

Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Minister of Science & Technology Yaakov Peri, and former President Shimon Peres all took to the stage during the conference series to discuss different cyber challenges facing policymakers. Other prominent international speakers included former NSA Director Gen. (Ret.) Keith Alexander, Canadian Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney, Assist. Sec. Gen. of Emerging Security Challenges Division at NATO Amb. Sorin Ducaru, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Director of the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance Cabinet Office U.K. James Quinault, Coordinator for Cyber Issues at the U.S. State Department Christopher Painter, and many others.

Inaugurating TAU's new cyber research center

TAU's new Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center was launched during the conference. In his keynote address, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the Center, established to provide solutions to growing threats in the cyber sphere nationally and internationally, would be of great importance, to both the field of cyber security and the State of Israel.

"The research center which is being launched here today, as a joint initiative of the National Cyber Bureau and TAU, under the leadership of Professor Isaac Ben Israel and with an investment of tens of millions of shekels, embodies the understanding of the unique interdisciplinary nature of the cyber field and the significance of the connection between people and computers, between this software, that hardware -- it has to keep evolving and changing," the prime minister told the packed Smolarz Auditorium.

The Blavatnik Cyber Center will draw on the University's deep pool of scholars and experts to advance research and policy papers; disseminate findings among the highest echelons in government and defense; train a new generation of cyber scientists and analysts; expand cooperation between university and industry; and educate the general public. The center's breakthroughs have already attracted partners such as the U.S. Air Force, NATO, top Israeli intelligence and defense agencies, Tata Industries, and Broadcom.

Innovation Showcase ranges from Iron Dome to Cyber Dome

TAU's Cybersecurity Innovation Showcase kicked off the conference on September 14th. It presented promising Israeli entrepreneurs, innovative cyber startup companies, venture capital funds, and private equity principals.

"Pressure makes diamonds," said Keren Elazari, a researcher fellow at the Yuval Ne'eman Workshop who hosted the forum's first session. "Israel is well-known for its tendency for innovation under unmatched pressure."

At a roundtable talk, Iron Dome developer Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Danny Gold, who holds a Ph.D. in Engineering and Management from TAU and currently serves on the National Cyber Committee at the National Council for Research and Development, unveiled his latest project, the "Cyber Dome," a revolutionary system with the potential to protect Israel from cyber attacks.

Dr. Gold, who invented the mobile anti-missile "Iron Dome" system that has protected the Israeli home front in the face of intense rocket fire from Gaza, said that the "Cyber Dome" could become operational within three years. "It is neither top-down nor bottom-up -- we have to integrate many resources, draw on many other means than cyber, to contend with threats," said Dr. Gold, who described his plan as "positive targeting" and "selective interception." By "creating a quality false target that imitates a real target," the system would draw the attention of the enemy, which would subsequently strike, allowing the technology to penetrate the hostile network to reach the source of attack.

Cyber Week also featured events at Ben-Gurion University on September 16 and concluded with roundtable forums at TAU on September 17.

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American Friends of Tel Aviv University supports Israel's leading, most comprehensive and most sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). Rooted in a pan-disciplinary approach to education, TAU is internationally recognized for the scope and groundbreaking nature of its research and scholarship -- attracting world-class faculty and consistently producing cutting-edge work with profound implications for the future. TAU is independently ranked among the world's top universities and #1 in Israel. It joins a handful of elite international universities that rank among the best producers of successful startups.

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