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“Would you send police officers armed with slingshots to Brazil’s favelas? This is how threats in the cybersphere should be treated,” says Avi Yariv, a cyber, intelligence and HLS expert and chairman of the InnoTech conference. The remarks were made ahead of a discussion on ethics in the sale of intelligence tools planned for the Cyber, HLS and innovation Conference organized by iHLS in collaboration with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Cyber Directorate, which will be held on Nov. 17-18 at the Tel Aviv Expo.
Register! Attend the panel discussion on ethics of the sale of offensive cyber, among dozens of intriguing discussions.
“A large part of the crime and threats against countries takes place in cyberspace. A country needs tools to defend itself – both defensive tools and intelligence gathering ones against those who threaten it. This is the reason why the onslaught against NSO as a company that sells offensive cyber products as if it is a problematic issue – is merely hypocrisy and insincerity.”
Yariv adds: “The development and export of such products are essential for countries and organizations that protect themselves and their citizens. Today it is NSO, tomorrow it could be any other cyber intelligence company. If the Israeli government does not react to the US sanctions against NSO – it might destroy by its own hands an important, leading part of the Israeli innovation and cyber industry.”
Yariv points out that at the same time, due to the complexity of the political arena, Israel can reconsider its moves in terms of how it oversees the sale of intelligence tools and how it manages the issue. One of the proposals, according to Yariv, is that those particularly aggressive intelligence products that the State of Israel is interested in exporting will be sold in government-to-government (G2G) format.
In the current situation, the Israel Ministry of Defense approves the deal, but the State does not know what happens after the approval. When moving to the government-to-government format – the State of Israel takes responsibility for all stages: the sale and implementation. According to Yariv, this is how things are done in traditional arms sales – the state manages the process. If a certain country wants to buy Trojan Horse malware, it will buy them from a company that develops them, but under the umbrella of the State of Israel, which will know how to monitor and take responsibility for the entire project with the purchasing country. Such a move would raise the level of responsibility of the countries and prevent various problems.
Guy Mizrahi, a serial entrepreneur and cyber expert, says that “the State of Israel sells huge amounts of heavy and light weapons, deals with aircraft upgrades, ships upgrades, missile systems and more. All of these are designed to deter and kill people. In the case of cyber, suddenly everyone tries to be innocent. It can be said with great confidence that to date, many more people have died from kinetic weapons than as from cyber weapons, but despite this – the criticism of the sale of weapons is nil and the criticism of the sale of Trojan Horse malware and other cyber intelligence tools is enormous.”
Mizrahi supports warnings from senior cyber industry executives, who argue that leaving NSO alone at the front against the US could be a severe blow to the sector. Mizrahi: “The State of Israel needs to think about whether the sale of weapons is a legitimate thing. If so, cyber weapons are weapons. Cyber intelligence tools are intelligence tools. It is worthwhile to better define the laws and permits for its sale.”