Commercial cyber products must be used responsibly, says NCSC CEO

Tech companies that develop sophisticated cyber capabilities that could be co-opted by malicious actors have a responsibility to ensure their sale is controlled and used safely, said National Cyber ​​Security CEO Lindy Cameron. Center (NCSC), to an audience at the university’s annual Tel Aviv Cyber ​​Week later today (June 28).

Calling for cooperation between institutions, technology companies and governments, Cameron will say: “If we are to maintain a cyberspace that is a safe and prosperous place for all, it is vital that these capabilities are produced and used in a way that is legal, responsible and proportionate.

While not directly referencing the events, Cameron’s speech comes nearly a year after the already controversial Israel-based malware developer NSO Group became embroiled in a surveillance scandal after an investigative consortium has revealed that its mobile remote access trojan (RAT), Pegasus, has been sold to repressive regimes who use it to spy on targets in other countries, including the UK .

The Pegasus RAT was linked, among other things, to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi authorities.

NSO Group was subsequently subject to restrictions and lawsuits in a number of jurisdictions, and in late 2021 Israel’s Defense and Foreign Ministries tightened the country’s export control rules for cyber technologies, although they made no mention of NSO Group as they did.

“I am pleased that Israel has tightened export controls around these tools, making it much more difficult for nations with concerning privacy and human rights records to acquire such software. intrusive spy.” Cameron will say.

“It is important that everyone, from the developer to the end user of these types of technologies and capabilities, acts responsibly, with appropriate safeguards to protect against misuse.”

Going forward, countries interested in acquiring a computer or intelligence system from an Israeli company are required to sign an updated statement as a condition of issuing an export license, stating that its use will be limited to the investigation and prevention of crime and terrorism. Note that this may not have stopped NSO’s Pegasus malware from being sold in certain circumstances, as the company has always maintained that it was being sold for exactly that purpose.

Cameron will go on to describe Israel as a “shining example” of a state that takes cybersecurity seriously. “The technology developed here is truly world-class,” she will say. “The talent in the cybersecurity industry is second to none. And your defenses are among the strongest in the world.

“But making the most of our digital future is too big a problem for any one country to handle alone. From drip irrigation to dramatic medical advances, Israel has always proudly innovated to benefit people far beyond. beyond your borders, so I hope you continue to produce secure, robust, yet affordable cybersecurity solutions for the world.

“To be successful, partnerships are essential. Thus, we build stronger links between academia, industry and government. We must come together around our common values, with each nation bringing its own particular skills and strengths to build a network that is naturally resistant to attack, one that values ​​innovation, discourse and creativity over control and coercion.

Cameron’s speech will also touch on the current threat landscape, noting that even with the cyber element of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is ransomware that remains the most pressing security threat.

“Just as they did on the battlefield, Ukrainian cyber defenders did an incredible job of repelling many of these attacks,” she will say. “They are real heroes. Resilience and preparation are at the heart of this success.

“But even with a war raging in Ukraine, the biggest global cyber threat most organizations face remains ransomware. This gives you an idea of ​​the magnitude of the problem.

“Ransomware attacks strike hard and fast. They are rapidly evolving, ubiquitous, and increasingly offered by gangs as a service, lowering the bar for entering cybercrime. And that’s what makes it such a pernicious threat – not just the incidents of national significance we face at NCSC, but also the hundreds of incidents we see nationwide every year.

“These complex attacks have the potential to affect our societies and our economies significantly, without the expertise of our incident management operators working in conjunction with their counterparts in industry and international governments.”

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