IDF computer operations room
IDF computer operations room Israel news photo: Flash 90

Cyber-terrorism and cyber-warfare are two of the biggest threats facing Israel, but have also led to some of Israel’s greatest successes, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev Elkin said Thursday.

Elkin was speaking in South Korea, where he has been working to boost Israeli-Korean cooperation.

“Terror organizations, hacktivists and criminals are repeatedly attempting to damage our economy, institutions and infrastructure. However, we have succeeded in turning this weakness into a source of strength,” Elkin declared.

“Indeed, due to the constant threats, Israel uniquely serves the global community as a live lab for new technologies… We have turned the threat of cyber attacks into an opportunity for knowledge and growth,” he continued.

Coping with cyber threats has given Israel not only experience, but also a unique source of human capital, he noted.

“Due to the security threat, we have a record number of young people who enter the fields of technology and cyber defense, every year, at the young age of 18, within the framework of their military service. They are young, dynamic and creative. In the field of cyber defense, the threat matrix is changing constantly and one must be incredibly flexible and creative,” he explained.

“These young people, like speed chess players, have proved time and time again their ability to meet complex challenges, in real time,” he said.

Many of the young soldiers who protect Israel on the cyber front go on to join the hi-tech sector, he noted, “enriching the technology field and helping to establish start-ups which attract the interest of multinationals.”

Israel’s approach to cyber-terror combines decades of experience with a “unique vision,” he explained. He noted the establishment of Israel’s “e-gov” institution Tehila in 1997, the establishment of the National Information Security Authority in 2002, and the establishment of the Israel National Cyber Bureau in early 2012.

The ongoing cyber attacks on Israel and on nations worldwide emphasize the need for international cooperation, he said.

“We firmly believe international cooperation is a critical factor… Israel looks forward to sharing its experience with other countries bilaterally,” he said.

Elkin concluded, “Together, we can work to repel attacks more quickly and efficiently, to devise effective national strategies, and most importantly, to integrate government, business, academic and civil society to meet the global cyber challenge of the 21st century.”

On Wednesday, Israeli firm Elbit Systems announced a new contract to supply advanced helmets to the Korean Aerospace Industry.