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Shin Bet chief: states “must invest in cyber protection no less than in border protection"

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Ronen Bar referred to cybersphere as a flat, uncontrolled world, the “new battlefield of security organizations”

Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar. Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik
Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar. Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik

“The power of the web today is not only to reflect reality – but also to produce one. The flat, uncontrolled world of social media is overtaking the free world, which is experiencing intergenerational and governance challenges,” said the Director of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar.

Speaking at a conference on anti-terrorism at the Reichman University in Israel. Bar added that “These crises cause traditional influencing or calming factors – parental, religious and social authority – to lose power. This space will be taken up by social media influencers or bot networks. This way, in a flat and unstandardized world, the state is losing significant advantages it once possessed against organizations and radical ideas.

“This is the new battlefield of security organizations in the modern world,” added Bar, noting that online incitement mostly influences immature, young people, and exposes vast populations to the potential of terrorism.”

Bar set out a strategy, of joining forces with the major social media companies “in order to devise an ethical code and expression threshold, that would enable efficiently handling incitement and violence,” as well as setting regulations, using AI to monitor content, and “adapting state enforcement mechanisms to the cyber world.”

Referring to the cyber threat on a national level, Bar said that he believes that Israel should “obligate the private sector to take a more active part in the defense efforts.

"States must invest in cybersphere protection no less than they do in border protection. A breached cybersphere enables attacks, which lead to the loss of knowledge and databases, secret revelation, harm critical infrastructure, cause financial instability and influences public opinion.

“The tendency to refrain from enforcing protective measures in the private sector in order to promote an expense-free industry, eventually harms the businesses themselves, as well as the resilience of the economy and the state.”

Bar also offered a strategy on the national level, saying that “The state must establish a mandatory defensive standard for protecting databases in the private sector. It must also adapt the definition of a ‘critical national infrastructure’ to the current times.”

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