On November 14, Israeli and American officials announced a new joint initiative to combat ransomware—a kind of computer virus that renders the victim’s data inaccessible until a ransom is paid. Such attacks have become more common in recent years, and although most of the perpetrators are likely technologically savvy criminals, there is serious reason to believe that some have been working for hostile governments. Annie Fixler and Enia Krivine explain the project:
Despite its small size, Israel is a recognized leader in technology and cybersecurity. For example, in the first half of 2021, Israeli companies commanded 41 percent of the total funds raised by cybersecurity firms worldwide. The success of Israeli cyber companies stems in part from a 2010 Israeli government task force that devised a five-year plan to make Israel a global cyber power. The strategy involved a private-public partnership leveraging Israeli academic, military, private-sector, and government resources.
Israel can provide a useful case study as the Biden administration, Congress, and the U.S. private sector seek to address cyber workforce shortages. Jerusalem’s experience fending off attacks by Iranian hackers against the Israeli water sector can also help inform Washington’s critical-infrastructure defense initiatives.
Congress is currently considering the U.S.-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Act, which would authorize $30 million over five years to fund cybersecurity research and development. The Israeli government would match the contributions through government funding and private-sector investment.