Of all the keynotes at this year’s t3 Enterprise conference in Las Vegas, the one most illuminating and alarming was delivered by Isaac Ben-Israel, the chairman of the Israel Space Agency and head of the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. A military scientist who is also a retired general of the Israel Defense Forces and former member of parliament, Ben-Israel presented his views on the development of artificial intelligence and the impact it has on the cyber threats that can lead to ransomware attacks or breaches such as the one Equifax experienced this year.
Using the Stuxnet virus, which took an Iranian uranium facility offline, Ben-Israel noted that real physical effects — in this case the collapse of the centrifuge machines — can result from “virtual” information such as the computer virus. This led him to propose four false dogmas relating to cyber warfare.
First, cyber warfare is not only about information, as evidenced by the Stuxnet virus.
Second, cyber warfare is not only about the internet — the Iranian facility wasn’t even connected to the internet.
Third, cyber warfare is not only about computers, as there was not a computer to be seen in the Iranian nuclear facility. Stuxnet attacked the centrifuge machine controllers instead of computers.
Finally, cybersecurity is not only about technology, as without taking into account the psychology of individuals and social behavior, legal problems or business considerations, one would not be able to choose the right technology to develop in the first place.
Ben-Israel says cyber security is simply the dark side of computing, and our industry is tasked with minimizing that dark side by taking preventative steps.