By Andrea Gibbs and Claire Vishik
The Cyber Week at The Tel Aviv University (TAU), Israel (June 25-29, 2017) was, by any measure, a large event. Seven thousand attendees joined the discussions; more than a thousand travelled internationally from the US, Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, India the UK, and other countries, 50+ overall. Among large international cybersecurity conferences, the TAU Cyber Week is uniquely participatory, with diverse discussion topics designed to encourage collaboration. The Cyber Week demonstrated just how many stakeholders worldwide consider cybersecurity important and are actively building bridges to collaborate and innovate.
The broad definition of cybersecurity includes the following components: “strategy, policy, and standards for security of and operations in cyberspace.” It comprises international engagement, incident response policies, law enforcement, information assurance, diplomacy, and other areas fundamental for security and stability of the global information infrastructure. All of these and many other areas formed topics of the discussion during Cyber Week.
The conference was built on the understanding that cybersecurity is a global endeavor based on cooperation. It included a number of roundtables — with India, Japan, Singapore, France, and other countries. Although the roundtables were bilateral between Israel and these countries, participation was international, and the message on the need to collaborate, to see cybersecurity as both a responsibility and an opportunity was clear. The US/Israel cybersecurity dialog, focusing on several areas, such as skill development and research, was mentioned in many talks, e.g., by the US Cybersecurity Coordinator Robert Joyce and Dr. Eviatar Matania, Head of Israel’s Cybersecurity Directorate.
The need for collaboration among stakeholders in cybersecurity – industry, academia, and government – was evident at TAU Cyber Week. Government officials from several countries spoke in a number of sessions and workshops. Academic participation was ubiquitous, and industry presence was strong. Many of the talks delivered by industry leaders were a testimony to the role of industry in fostering innovation in cybersecurity. Industry speakers did not talk about traditional IT, but instead focused on the future, e.g., JR Rao of IBM discussed Artificial Intelligence and Matt Carver of Accenture Labs presented on security in the Cloud.
Rick Echevarria, of Intel, spoke on security in autonomous driving vehicles, a very complex area of research, development and practice that needs a comprehensive security approach.
A large number of startups participated, and sessions on novel technology areas, such as blockchain, had to be moved to a much larger auditorium to accommodate all attendees. Intel’s Rick Echevarria opened the blockchain panel discussion highlighting that, in order to succeed, it is necessary to build “a foundation of trust between parties and collaboration to address the challenges facing the blockchain industry.” To improve blockchain’s privacy and security, Intel and other technology companies are creating coherent technology approaches across contexts of use, collaborating on broadly applicable solutions with players like Pokitdok or BitPay, and Open Source projects like Hyperledger. Comprehensive technology solutions, such as novel consensus mechanisms–one of Intel’s areas of focus–are essential to improve scalability, security, privacy, and agility of blockchain technologies.
Privacy was a prominent subject at Cyber Week and the focus of one of the opening events, the “Privacy, Security, and Trust: the Challenge for Democracies” workshop. The discussions included an excellent lineup of speakers from Europe, Israel, and the US. While the legal and regulatory viewpoints dominated this workshop, privacy was also discussed in a number of more specific settings, technical and business related, such as workshops on cancellable biometrics, blockchain, or the session on IoT security. Privacy was prominent in academic sessions on a variety of subjects, such as artificial intelligence.
The Cyber Week in Tel Aviv demonstrated how important multi-disciplinary work and international collaboration are for cybersecurity and what the stakeholders in cybersecurity and privacy are doing to drive innovation. Among the attendees, there were diplomats, scientists, journalists, aspiring startup leaders, those working in law enforcement and civil society organizations, lawyers, educators, risk analysts, students, and government and industry leaders. In such a broad group, the discussions on the sidelines of the meetings were full of novel viewpoints, allowing everyone to expand their horizons and broaden their knowledge and awareness.