On July 19-22, Tel Aviv University in cooperation with the (Israeli) National Cyber Directorate and the Israel Cyber Alliance hosted the 11th annual Cyber Week.

Cyber Week, which took place both in-person and through global telecast, has become the crown jewel of Israeli cyber events, bringing together internationally recognized cyber experts, leading government officials, and practitioners to discuss the most mission-critical issues in cybersecurity today.

TAU’s 2021 pinnacle cyber event seamlessly blended four core tracks to weave a vibrant narrative of the risks and mitigation approaches essential to making cybersecurity a viable commodity for government and public enterprise alike.

Below we’ll highlight some of the most meaningful insights and speakers featured in Cyber Week 2021.

Israel’s Appreciation of Cyber Risk

No cyber event on Israeli soil would be complete without risk assessments and a series of high-profile talks from prominent Israeli government officials.

2021’s Cyber Week did not disappoint in this regard as it held host to; Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev as well as Chairmen of Cyber Week and Director of the Blavatnik ICRC Maj Gen. Prof Isaac Ben-Israel.

In their collective remarks, the Israeli officials emphasized that, for Israel to maintain its tactical edge against its advisories cyber must be elevated and appreciated on a similar level to traditional military deterrence procedures.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz put it more bluntly: “Our message is very clear – be it a rocket, or a keyboard, we will not tolerate anyone to threaten our people.”

Our enemies know no boundaries — just as they fire rockets at civilians, they aim to harm civilian facilities via cyber space while endangering human lives, Israel works continuously to defend against cyber-attacks.”

Prime Minister Bennet echoed Gantz’s sentiment when he announced the creation of a “global network shield within which partner-governments globally will collaborate in real time to identify cybersecurity attacks, raise the alert and work together to develop solutions. [The network] will be an “online, real-time global network defense and we invite all like-minded good countries to join forces.”

International Cybersecurity Cooperation

2021’s Cyber Week’s agenda was heavily focused on the importance of international cyber cooperation and the steps needed to facilitate cyber transparency between government agencies, local municipalities, and businesses.

Brandon Wales, Executive Director of the Cybersecurity, and Infrastructure Security Agency (US), Lindy Cameron, CEO of the UK based National Cyber Security Centre and Scott Jones, Head of the Canadian Centre of Cyber Security each gave over similar and particularly compelling narratives concerning the key steps they have taken domestically to bring cybersecurity to the forefront of legislators and impacted agencies.

According to Cameron “We believe the cyber security threats we face are shared globally. So, it is vital that all cyber actors use capabilities in a way that is legal, responsible and proportionate to ensure cyberspace remains a safe and prosperous place for everyone. And we will work with allies to achieve this.”

Cameron continued “Operational collaboration between our agencies – and many other agencies represented at this conference – is strong and well developed. It focuses on exchanges of threat reporting and analysis of trends, something I am pleased to say continued successfully throughout lockdown.”

From curating essential resources for government agencies and small businesses to promoting intergovernmental transparency to better ensure sharing information about large-scale cyberattacks, flagship national government agencies responsible for publicizing cyber risks are vital partners in creating cybersecurity globally. Judging by the scale and scope of these organizations and their active desire to build bridges of communication and mutual gain, the prospects for intergovernmental cybersecurity cooperation are very promising.

Supply Chain Cyber

The organizers of Cyber Week 2021 gave special emphasis on highlighting the unique security challenges and segmented approach essential to managing security across the supply chain. From Director of Cyber Missions for DataRobot’s Sean Plankey’s practical tidbits on how to secure the supply chain to Microsoft’s Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk’s broader reflections of the post-Covid world and its potentially damaging effects to supply chain security, 2021’s Cyber Week provided the impetus to fascinating and lively conversations on the most impactful choke points to the supply chain.

Plankey and Braverman-Blumenstyk’s insights were a perfect counterbalance to the perspective of Liran Tal, Director of advocacy at Snyk who spoke about the potential long-term risk and mitigation solutions for strengthening cybersecurity within the supply chain.

The Threat of Ransomware

There is no escaping the purview of ransomware and Cyber Week was clearly no different. With the massive surge of ransomware dominating the headlines and bank accounts of individuals and businesses around the world, the conference offered ample opportunities to dissect the threat and address industry best practices to decrease the impact of ransomware campaigns.

Director of Strategic Alliances for Pentera, Oren Kaplan, and Maty Siman, founder and CTO of Checkmarx led the way in bringing some practical steps to mitigate the threats of ransomware.  From hardening internal systems to improving employee education Kaplan and Siman relayed many of the most important mitigation suggestions to greatly diminish the risk of ransomware attacks.

Lessons Learned

After more than a year on the physical conference sidelines, Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week has returned and has shown the world why it has become one of the premier cybersecurity conferences worldwide.

Bringing together leading cyber personalities, decision-makers, and innovators guiding Israel and the world’s most exciting cybersecurity startups, Cyber Week 2021 fostered the critical conversations, dynamic discussions, and important technological exchanges vital to making cybersecurity achievable to businesses and organizations around the globe.