Monday, June 1, 2020

Even if the coronavirus pandemic could be less of a concern in Israel, "we need to protect ourselves against the cyber pandemic that is coming. We know it will happen, and we need to secure it.”


The founder and CEO of Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point warned Monday that the new reality created by the coronavirus pandemic will cause threats in the cybersecurity field to rise, and that countries need to protect themselves against the coming “cyber pandemic.”

Speaking at “The New Tomorrow” – a four-day online summit organized by the Israeli-American Council and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation that seeks to examine the new reality in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – Check Point founder and CEO Gil Shwed said that “Cybersecurity will change a lot.

“What happened in the last three months pushed forward five, maybe even 10 years of technological evolution,” he explained.

“More services moved online; companies removed barriers. We allowed developers to work just from within the company physically, so we could keep our intellectual property… In one day, we had to change all of that and allow people to access from home. This rapid change means hackers will find a way… The hackers can find a way to hack a personal computer of an employee and through them get into our Crown Jewels.”

Shwed added that even if the coronavirus pandemic could be less of a concern in Israel, “we need to protect ourselves against the cyber pandemic that is coming. We know it will happen, and we need to secure it.”

Also speaking at the summit was Dan Ariely, Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics, who discussed the psychological impact in Israel of the pandemic, and how Israel’s behavior has changed over time.

“We started this period with a very high collective action… That collective action has stopped. Very sadly, if you look at what has happened the last few days, it is true the numbers are down, but my fear is this sense of commitment to the collective good has gone down,” Ariely said. “I’m very proud of the collective action [Israel] had early on – it is really amazing and heartwarming – [but] I am a little worried about the reduction over time.”

The professor also expressed his fears that in case of a second wave of infections in Israel, Israelis would not be as successful in mobilizing.
“[It’s a] very interesting paradoxical result… Paradoxically, if [Israel] was less successful and more people got sick and more people passed away, for the next wave if there will be one, people would be more prepared to take personal costs,” he explained.

“But because the probability of getting sick and dying in Israel was so low, the experience of people is that this is not such a bad deal... Strong measures in phase one and relative success is teaching people the wrong lesson for wave two, and that means that wave two will be much harder to mobilize people in the right way. Instead of having the Spanish Flu in the back of our minds as fear, we will have these personal experiences of three months when nothing bad happened.”

Other leading figures from a variety of industries speaking at the summit, who will address a variety of topics, include, but are not limited to, Facebook’s Israel general manager Adi Soffer Teeni; Intel Israel’s general manager Yaniv Garty; Nir Eretz, executive vice president of Mobileye and CEO of Israeli start-up Moovit; and the World Health Organization’s regional emergency director Dr. Dorit Nitzan.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Nitzan explained that her panel will address the uniqueness of the coronavirus pandemic and how more important trust is now than ever before.

“We saw that in many countries where people trusted their leadership, they followed the instructions,” she told the Post. “Those countries did not need laws and regulations. They would get advice from their prime minister or health minister and stay home and behave.

“In some countries, where they did not trust and there was not solidarity, people were fighting and looking for ways not to comply.”
While Israel did do well by being among the first countries to take strong measures against the virus, there is still room for improvement.
“What I would like Israel to invest in is trust building and community engagement so that all people understand that this pandemic is a severe disease,” she added. “I don’t think that was clear to everyone.”

Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.