TEL AVIV – Flagging Israel as a global cyber power "right up there" behind the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will propose augmented bilateral cybersecurity cooperation when he meets with President Donald Trump in mid-Feburary.
"Iran attempts to hack critical infrastructure in the region and in the countries of the West. The Internet of Things can be hijacked by nefarious actors for dangerous purposes with dangerous results …. That's why I intend to raise the subject and discuss the subject of cooperation in cybersecurity in my upcoming visit in Washington with President Trump," Netanyahu said.
Speaking to a crowd of thousands here Tuesday at the annual CyberTech international conference and exhibition, Netanyahu said he met late last week with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's special adviser on civilian cybersecurity issues.
"Israel and the United States are two leading powers; the United States obviously [is] the leading power in the battle for cybersecurity, but Israel, I would say, is right up there. I think it's critical that we augment whatever each of us is doing alone by our cooperation both on the government-to-government level and what we can do with our cyber securityindustries," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu acknowledged that the two governments have already held "important discussions" on the issue, but hoped to build on cooperation under the new administration. "The more we work together, the stronger and safer we'll become."
In an interview last week on Israel's state-run Channel One television, Giuliani said Trump had asked him to explore the establishment of a joint cybersecurity committee with Israel to defend against cyber threats. The former New York mayor was appointed earlier this month to the cyber advisory role "because of his long and very successful government career in law enforcement and his now 16 years of work providing security solutions in the private sector," according to a Jan. 12 statement by the Trump transition team.
Giuliani is a member of the Greenberg Traurig law practice, with offices in Tel Aviv and around the world. He chairs the firm's cyber security, privacy and crisis management practice.
Netanyahu noted that Israel attracts about 20 percent of private worldwide investment in cyber. "That's one-fifth of global private investment. Not bad for a country that is just one-tenth of one percent of the global population. It means we're punching 200 times above our weight class."
Chuck Robbins, chief executive of Cisco, noted that his firm, an international leader in the cyber and information technology sector, was marking its 20th year in Israel, during which time the firm invested in research-and-development centers and acquired more than a dozen Israeli firms. He noted that there are more than 600 security start-up firms in Israel alone, and that Cisco intends to be active here in the years ahead.