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Israelis Invest in Cybersecurity

Americans could learn from Israel about the demands of cybersecurity in the 21st century.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks at the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR32SUA
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Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who at the start of his political career in the mid-1990s served as the director-general of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, was the first person to demand of the participants in the meetings he conducted to dismantle their mobile phone and pull out the battery. Having come from Russia, Liberman already knew back then that cellular phones were, for all intents and purposes, potent surveillance devices and that those with appropriate means could connect to them via remote from anywhere in the world and eavesdrop on the events taking place in the room.

That was almost 20 years ago. The incumbent prime minister — Benjamin Netanyahu again — prefers to hold particularly secret discussions at the Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv rather than at his shielded office in Jerusalem. Only there, at this Mossad facility, which is optimally protected against outside surveillance, does Netanyahu feel safe from wiretapping. Incidentally, Bibi [Netanyahu] is not concerned by wiretapping from Syrian or Egyptian intelligence agencies, but rather from the colossal and daunting US National Security Agency (NSA). The working premise of Israel’s senior politicians and defense officials is that the Americans pick up, record and transcribe every word that’s uttered here. These are the rules of the game, and nobody in Israel really complains about this state of affairs. If you ask Dan Shapiro, the popular US ambassador to Israel, he will tell you that even though it is common knowledge that everyone listens to everyone else, Israelis have never grumbled.

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