Homeland Security Monitor - July 2017

Homeland Security Monitor
Homeland Security Monitor
July 2017

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert announced a new U.S.-Israeli working group on cyber issues at the 2017 Tel Aviv Cyber Week conference. (AP/Andrew Harnick)

United States to Work with Israel, Seek Other Ties to Combat Cyberattacks

On June 26, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert announced that a new U.S.-Israeli working group is set to meet on a range of cyber issues including the protection of critical infrastructure. “These high level meetings represent the first step in strengthening bilateral ties on cyber issues following President Trump’s visit to Israel,” said Bossert at a Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week conference last month. “We believe that the agility Israel has in developing solutions will result in innovative cyber defenses we can test here and then take back to America.” The group will specifically focus on finding and stopping attacks before they reach networks and critical infrastructure, while identifying ways to punish attackers.

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Opinion: Six Reasons Israel Became a Cybersecurity Powerhouse Leading the $82 Billion Industry

At Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week conference last month, Forbes contributor Gil Press investigated the drivers of Israel’s remarkable success in cybersecurity. One important factor according to Press is the positive advisory role Israel’s government has played in fostering collaboration among the private, public and academic sectors. He underscores the function of Israel’s National Cyber Security Authority, established in 2015, which has fostered private-public cooperation while respecting the privacy and rights of businesses and individuals. The Israel Defense Forces—particularly Unit 8200— was also identified as playing an important role as an incubator and accelerator for Israeli cybersecurity start-ups. Press concludes by highlighting Israel’s Advanced Technologies Park, which has attracted multinational firms like Dell EMC and IBM, and serves as a “unique blend of the practical and theoretical, of interdisciplinary and cross-pollination, of public and private interests.”

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Hackers Targeting Israel Often Experience 'Unexpected Mishaps,' Says Israeli Security Chief

Nadav Argaman, head of the Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, said Israel is successfully using “trailblazing technological improvements” to fight back against cyberterrorists during Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week 2017. “Just as we aren’t satisfied with passive defense in the real world but find terrorists in their place—the same goes for cyber defense. We study our adversary’s modus operandi and learn how to defeat them in a variety of ways,” said Argaman. The Israeli security chief also stated that advances in the Jewish state’s cyber capabilities have allowed it to counter more traditional terrorist threats. Notably, since the start of 2016, Israel has prevented over 2,000 potential lone-wolf attacks with newly implemented cyber technologies, resulting in 400 arrests.

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Intel Steps Up Security Efforts in Israel with Team8, Illusive Networks and a New Cyber Center

On June 21, Intel announced an expansion of its work with Israeli cyber startups. The American tech giant specifically plans to collaborate on new product development with Israeli cybersecurity firms Team8 and Illusive Networks. “Team8 will be instrumental in helping us pinpoint the opportunities for Intel innovation to address the challenges in the cyber security segment,” said Vice President of Intel’s software and services group Rick Echevarria. While Intel’s collaboration with Team8 will focus more broadly on an array of cybersecurity products, its work with Illusive Networks will more narrowly target the development of capabilities to combat advanced persistent threats—a cyberattack in which a hacker gains access to a network and remains there for an extended period of time without being detected. In addition to collaborating with these two companies, Intel also plans to open a new cybersecurity center in Israel.

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Two Iranian Nationals Charged in Hacking of Vermont Software Company

On July 17, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments charging two Iranian nationals, Mohammed Reza Rezakhah and Mohammed Saeed Ajily, with hacking a Vermont-based computer company and exporting “defense articles” without an export license—in violation of sanctions against Iran. The announcement was closely coordinated with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control’s (OFAC) July 18 sanctioning of seven entities and five individuals, including Rezakhah and Ajily, for engaging, or attempt to engage, in activities in support of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ procurement network.

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