Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cyber concerns bring leaders from across globe to Tel Aviv - Anna Ahronheim

by Anna Ahronheim

Thousands take part in Israel's 4th HLS and Cyber Conference where the role of social media in radicalization and terrorism was a top issue.

Thousands of top decision-makers, along with senior government and law enforcement officials from 80 countries, gathered in Tel Aviv this week for the fourth International Homeland Security and Cyber Conference.

The conference, which runs November 14 to November 17 at Tel Aviv’s Convention Center, focuses on the ever-changing challenge of protecting data from the merging of physical and cyber crime.

Israel is a leader in cyber security. More than 300 companies had sales of $4b. in 2015 alone, and the conference is showcasing hundreds of those top companies in the field of homeland and cyber security.

Speakers will discuss how and why the increased number of terror attacks worldwide has led to government strategies to better protect their strategic assets, including citizens.

Chief information security officer at Barclays Bank, Troles Oerting, said, “When the rules of the game have changed, we have to change as well.” That sentiment was echoed by Meir Hayun, chief superintendent and head of the national cyber crime unit of the Israel Police, who said there needs to be a “change in how we think of intelligence today.”

As part of the conference’s main focus on cyber security, a discussion was held on the significant role played by social media in radicalization and encouragement of terrorism.

In a world of constant change, new threats arise on a daily basis. One game-changer is the threat posed by robots on social media, where decisions must be made if inciteful material on sites such as Twitter and Facebook were posted by human beings or “bots.”

As the influence of social media grows, so does concern about its effect on vulnerable youth, especially in regard to Islamic extremism.

Former chief of Shin Bet Yoram Cohen talked about the large number of third-generation Muslim immigrant youths who did not integrate into European society and “underwent an identity crisis which caused them to become disenfranchised with the state.” These predominantly male youth from lower-economic households often turned to radical Islam and terror in order to atone for what they perceive as past crimes or sins, usually involving drugs.

“When they can’t make it to the Middle East, they carry out attacks at home. And those who do make it often serve as role models for those who remain in Europe,” Cohen said, “posing an additional threat to law enforcement.”

Salafi, or fundamentalist, Jihadi terrorism can also found among Palestinians, Cohen said. While there is limited support within that sector, the rise of its popularity and influence of the Islamic State create worries to, among others, Palestinian authorities.

According to Cohen, while most Palestinians don’t support or identify with Islamic State, there has been an increase in ISIS-influenced cells, caught at the end-stages of planning attacks on Israeli targets, before plans could be carried out.

In his second public appearance since leaving Shin Bet, Cohen told the crowd that “the reality of mass terror cannot be expected to change in our favor any time soon,” and pointed to online incitement as a major player in the process of radicalization and terrorism.

Anna Ahronheim


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