“In our work, we are constantly required to demonstrate creativity and a broad view and think outside the box,” says A., a 20-year-old IDF soldier serving in the Shin Bet’s cyber division. “In rounds of fighting or in significant events, we create an envelop for the operations and offer added value in different and diverse elements.”
“My parents think I’m saving the world,” says R., head of the development and assault team at the Shin Bet’s Cyber Division, laughing. “I take a lot of pride in my work. There isn’t a dull moment in the cyber unit, and every day brings with it an interesting event. There is no such thing as a boring day when there’s nothing to do. The work provides the drive, the creativity and the passion for the important things we do.”
R. is 34 years old and has a daughter. She took part in an initiative to create a professional training course for soldiers arriving in the organization and served as the course’s first commander while she was pregnant.
“In cyber,” she says, “it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. A woman with an understanding of the field, who talks straight to the point and with a lot of confidence... breaks the stigmas of the past. A woman who works hard is highly appreciated in the organization.”
Another aspect is the rapid changes in the world of technology and, as a result, the enemy’s characteristics and modi operandi as well.
“In the security world, the walls are coming up, so we must improve and upgrade ourselves all the time,” says R. “In operations and rounds of fighting, we work with the understanding that we are a significant part of the fighting. We experience failures and losses too, but we improve and draw conclusions for the next operation.”
D., who heads a department in the Shin Bet’s Cyber and Technology Division, agrees. “In each of our events, we practically save lives. The immediate response and feedback stand out. We don’t have a strategic tool here waiting to be activated for two years. What happens here is almost always immediate. Today we write something, and tomorrow it already encounters the enemy.
“We take our workers on tours and meetings in the prevention units on the ground, so they can witness the contribution and value of their actions with their own eyes, and we clearly present to them the intelligence brought to the organization through the tools they have developed.”
D., 37, is married with four children. He served in a hesder yeshiva, studied computer science at Bar-Ilan University and was on the fast track to a promotion in an international high-tech company he was working in. His curiosity about working in a security organization led him to the Shin Bet, after he heard from a relative that the agency was looking for employees in the field.
“It was important for me not to start from scratch. I built myself professionally and gained knowledge and experience. So it was important for me to bring it along with me to the organization,” D. says.
Today, the Shin Bet is successfully competing with the business sector, and there are special tracks for suitable candidates. The particularly talented ones are offered the kind of salary package and terms offered by the biggest companies. When the division’s employees are asked about the “temptations” in civilian companies, R. replies that “there’s no comparison. Many workers say the quality of people in the organization is nothing like in private companies.
“In our industry, every week begins on Sunday with one thing, moves to another thing on Tuesday, and then on Thursday you get a phone call that changes everything and starts something new. It’s sometimes insane, but for those who like it, it’s amazing.”
A., the youngest member of the group, concludes: “People often ask me about the outside temptations, but that’s an easy question. How can you compare saving lives to working with computer games or payments? You can’t.”
In the beginning of the year, the Shin Bet released for the first time a VR (virtual reality) experience providing a peek into the agency's technological and preventive activity and allowing visitors to the Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv to experience one of the many challenges the organization deals with on a daily basis.
In the VR experience, the user has to thwart a terror attack that has already been launched within a limited period of time and carry out intelligence work in real time. The experience of the game demonstrates the general security service’s reality in thwarting terror attacks and saving lives.
This was the third year the Shin Bet took part in Cybertech. Last year, the exhibition raised a lot of interest with the “escape bus,” which attracted hundreds of visitors.
One of the Shin Bet’s goals in participating in the conference, which was held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, was locating high-quality and suitable manpower for a series of positions on the technological front, which are offered by the organization in the fields of cyber and in the different worlds of technology.