We are in the fifth generation of cyber attacks

"The real victory will not be Israel's, but that of the entire Middle East region," proclaims President Isaac Herzog at the opening of Cybertech Global Tel Aviv
Isaac Herzog - PHOTO/FILE
Isaac Herzog - PHOTO/FILE

Despite being immersed in the war against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and against Hezbollah on the Lebanese border, Israel did not want to postpone or cancel the tenth edition of the Cybertech Global Tel Aviv Conference and the Sparks Innovation Summit, which are being held jointly in the state's economic capital. The event brings together several thousand visitors from fifty countries and two hundred of the world's leading cyber security specialists. 

At the opening session, President Isaac Herzog proclaimed that "the real victory will not be Israel's, but that of the entire Middle East region". The Israeli head of state noted that the past six months have affected not only the Middle East, but the entire globe: "It has been a dark and painful time, but we have also seen the tremendous light, social resilience, care and determination of Israelis. We have shown that we are unbreakable". 

Herzog used the occasion to emphasise that the gathering in Tel Aviv of "some of the best and most creative minds in Israel and around the world speaks volumes about the Israeli spirit and its ability to overcome the tragedy of unthinkable loss and to bounce back and reinvent itself again and again. 

Un hacker encapuchado sostiene una computadora portátil - REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL
A hooded hacker holds a laptop computer - REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL

The president made specific reference to the unique collaboration between Kibbutz Holit, one of the communities that suffered devastating losses during the 7 October terrorist attacks, in Intel. "Joining forces, the kibbutz and Intel Ignite launched an incredible agricultural and climate technology accelerator, and now Holit will become a global hub for food security and climate innovation. It will not only return to what it was, but it will develop even further". 

Herzog directly blamed Hamas and Iran for trying to destroy cooperation in the region and referred to the vision presented by US President Joe Biden just two months before the 7 October massacre. "An amazing vision of the connectivity between Israel and Asia through the Middle East, which the forces of evil wanted to destroy. Now we can turn this tragedy into an opportunity and build a Middle East 2.0. Together we can create these new economic opportunities to protect and preserve our planet". He called for "joining hands and linking across borders, religions and ethnic divides. The result will be a better world for the region". 

Moving on to the packed and dense programme of speeches, the most striking and well-attended of the first day was Gil Schwed, founder and CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, who spoke on the role of cybernetics and the increasing sophistication of hackers. He said we are under attack by some of the most sophisticated attacks we have ever seen from all types of attackers: ideological, nation-state sponsored organisations, financial criminals and many others. 

Schwed addressed the specific challenges Israel currently faces in its cyber war with Iran, and said the good news is that Israel detects attacks and can combat them; the bad news is that many organisations are still lagging behind in the sophistication of their own defence. "We are in the fifth generation of cyber attacks, which are polymorphic, very difficult to identify, which means they look different every time. They are multi-stage attacks, which also cause a lot of damage that is very difficult to repair". 

The chief executive of Check Point Software Technologies says the world's major powers are using their cyber power. "Some aspects," he says, "are on the second line (intelligence gathering, gaining control over critical systems, etc.) while others are waging real cyber warfare, from WannaCry in Ukraine to major attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and Iran. The level of sophistication is increasing considerably. The internet is an open universe and technologies often expand at great speed".