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Only the Paranoid Survive

Avi Friedman

Cybersecurity is a $100 billion industry in which Israel has emerged as a global leader.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Asked whether the threat of a cyberattack on Israel’s military or civilian infrastructure was realistic, senior industry analysts said such a scenario is certainly plausible. “We have a terrific challenge when trying to secure national infrastructure and defense projects,” said Michael Arov, a senior developer at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, a quasi-governmental company that develops and manufactures advanced defense systems for the IDF and the defense establishment. “Take a municipal water pump or electricity grid: There is no room for error or for the system to crash. It’s got to work perfectly, 24/7, so we use very simple computer technology there, to ensure there isn’t a lot to go wrong. “On the other hand, that also leaves the computer very susceptible to viruses and hacking, because we can’t use advanced defense systems,” Arov explained. “So although the word ‘cyber’ conjures up all sorts of exciting images, we aren’t talking about Star Wars–type attacks here. Everything today is connected to the Internet — microwave ovens, air conditioners, cars, even running shoes are now fitted with microchips in order to keep track of your daily activity.” Ultimately, industry professionals and analysts agree that as more private, business, and governmental data is stored online, opportunities for hackers to obtain sensitive information and to wreak havoc on military and civilian infrastructure around the world will continue to grow.  And the numbers are indeed frightening: Last year saw the world’s first $1 billion cyber robbery, just a small fraction of the estimated $445 billion annual cost of cyber crime. That number is expected to grow exponentially in coming years as the number of mobile users grows, and as average users become more adept at manipulating simple, over-the-counter devices. By 2019, there will be 5.23 billion mobile users, distributing more than 300,000 malwares a day.

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