TEL AVIV – Israel and the United States signed a cyber defense declaration Tuesday calling for real-time operational connectivity through respective Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTS) of both nations.
The declaration of intent, announced during the annual Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University, was signed by Eviatar Matania, head of the Israel National Cyber Directorate (NCD) and Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS).
Direct responsibility for the planned bilateral cyber defense operations will come under Suzanne Spaulding, DHS undersecretary for national protection and programs, and Buki Carmeli, head of the Israel National Cyber Authority, who also signed the accord.
“The declaration expresses the criticality of joining forces between countries for the benefit of dealing effectively with common threats in the cyber domain. In particular, [it expresses] the obligation of the governments of Israel and the US to broaden and deepen bilateral cooperation in the field of cyber defense,” noted a statement by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, which overseas activities of the NCD.
According to the June 21 statement, Israel will be one of the first countries in the world to join Washington’s Automated Indicator Sharing program, a DHS-managed system that allows sharing of cyber threat indicators for preventive and corrective cyber defense operations.
According to the Israeli statement, the two countries have committed to coordinate respective plans and processes to enable “cooperation in real time of valuable information for defensive operations.”
In an interview last week, Matania said the Israeli National Cyber Security Authority began operations in April, just months after Carmeli was appointed to head the organization responsible for cyber defense operations and the Israeli CERT.
By September, the CERT will be activated in Beersheba, the southern Israeli town envisioned as not only Israel’s cyber capital, but what Matania called “a global hub for cyber innovation.”
“Between September and December, our CERT will be operational… It’s a totally new approach to how a national CERT should work.,” he said.
In addition to automated preventive measures, information sharing and analysis, the CERT allows the National Cyber Security Authority to harness national capacity to defend against attack campaigns.
State-owned Rafael Ltd. is prime contractor for the Israeli CERT, after winning last year the largest cyber tender in Israeli history over competing teams led respectively by Elbit Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. Rafael is teamed with Israel’s Matrix and US giants IBM, EMC and Cisco on the multiyear program.
Rafael executive Yuval Galili said the firm is providing system engineering, design and integration of the solution according to NCD requirements. “This is a national project which is changing the face of Israel’s capabilities to defend itself across the entire civilian sector,” he said.
In a recent interview, Galili said Rafael has been involved in cyber protection for its own systems for about 20 years, but it was only until about two years ago that it began to offer such capabilities to export customers and partners.
“Almost all the companies are dealing in products or in niche fields of the cyber domain. But now, customers are starting to understand they need a holistic end-to-end solution tailored to their needs.
That’s what we’re doing in Israel, and that’s what we’ve started to offer for the global market,” Galili said.