by Nick Kolyohin
JERUSALEM June 23 (Xinhua) -- Israel has realized its goal of becoming one of the top five leading cyber powers in the world, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has touted.
Indeed, as the conflict between Israel and the Arab world enters a new war zone, the digital world, due to the rapid expansion of the Internet, Israel has become one of the most attacked countries in the cyber world and may be the most experienced country in protecting cyber security.
"My goal eight years ago was to make Israel one of the five leading cyber powers in the world, and I think we've reached that; I think we're maybe even further ahead on that list," Netanyahu said in a keynote speech to the annual cyber week conference being held at Tel Aviv University.
A top Israeli cyber official said that the other countries on the top five cyber powers' list are the United States, Russia, China and the United Kingdom.
The weeklong conference is attended by more than 8,000 attendees from 80 countries, including leaders and experts of cyber security, military and intelligence services. The conference provides insight into the latest global developments in cybersecurity.
Israel was not chosen to host by chance. The small Middle Eastern country is probably the most attacked country in the cyber world because of its long conflict with the Arab world.
Each big Israeli company arms itself with crisis prevention and management centers. Smaller private companies and even citizens are also guarded by moves against cyber breaches.
Netanyahu highlighted the Israeli city of Be'er Sheva as a model for how nations can concentrate their cyber talent in one location. "Within 200 meters, you can have a military, academia and business talk to each other," he added.
Ehud Schneorson, former head of the elite Israeli Intelligence Unit 8200, predicted that critical infrastructure will be the prime target for all future wars, including a cyber war.
"Energy infrastructure is the cardiovascular system of the modern nation," said Schneorson. "It's very beneficial to attack this type of infrastructure and if we look back on the summary of the upcoming war-conflict, cyber could be the next 9/11."
He was referring to the terror attacks in Washington D.C. and New York, the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Many try to understand how such a small country as Israel has become a leader in cybersecurity. The most probable explanation is that the best minds of Israeli youths are recruited each year by the famous military Intelligence Unit 8200.
A countrywide search for the highest achieving high school graduates to take part in a screening test ensures the best of the best will be recruited by the unit.
Upon completion of their services at this unit, former soldiers are well equipped with invaluable experience and transferable skills that make them an asset to the workforce.
Employees in private sector are now able to utilize the specific knowledge acquired through military training and help their employers in their pursuit of making a fortune.
Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked said that "we should not allow companies from other countries to disregard the right to privacy and the laws that have been legislated to protect our citizens."
Netanyahu said that cyber insecurity will always be in the virtual world, and Israel must continue to guard against cyber attacks.
"We can monitor quite a bit, we can stop a lot, but we need to keep racing ahead. This is a supreme test for our civilization, and must combine forces to protect the present and ensure the future," he said.