The Knesset's Science and Technology Committee held a special session on Israel's readiness for cyber attacks on Tuesday, following the recent release of the personal and credit card information of thousands of Israelis by a Saudi hacker.
Committee Chairwoman MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) said that cyber attacks were "more threatening than any ballistic attack… I don't want to foster any doomsday scenario, but this problem is growing at an exponential rate."
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"There's gross negligence when it comes to data storage, be it where I shop or in government offices… (websites) don't have sufficient security. I want standardization which is what the Cyber Authority is for," she said.
Shai Haimovitz of the Defense Ministry, however, said that the Saudi hack is considered a criminal case, not a security one, and therefore will not be handled by his ministry.
Yoram Hacohen, head of the Justice Ministry's Law, Information and Technology Authority (LITA), who is heading the government's investigation into the Saudi hack, called it a "wakeup call," adding it bore "some characteristic of cyber terror."
Hacohen compared the credit card case to LITA's exposure of the Population Registry database theft, saying that the Agron case posed a much bigger security threat: "It involved a comprehensive database, including State bodies. This is essentially a private (database), to we have to handle it differently."
The security level observed for the latter was "low to virtually nonexistent. You don't have to be a topnotch hacker to do that."
Senior Vice Accountant General Tal Harmati, of the Treasury, added that Israel is subjected to thousands of cyber attacks the public is unaware of, adding that State bodies enjoy relatively good protection: "All critical infrastructure – power, water etc, invest in such protection."
He too said that the hack was a wakeup call to Israel's fumbling information security.
"Israel's conduct in this matter is poor," Dr. Nimrod Kozlovski, an attorney specializing in privacy laws, told the committee. "Anyone in the field will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that the majority of private websites give no thought to information security."
Kozlovski believes that private legislation which would deal with the practicalities of enhancing security levels is in order. "A website has no real interest in security so this affair is far from over," he warned.
He suggests Israel adopt California's standardization regulations, but Hacohen said it was a problematic legislation that could not be completely adapted to Israel.
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