On Mondays we Form Bilateral Cybersecurity Groups

There are certain things in a friendship that you can never forget, like the first time two lifelong best friends first meet. Abbi and Ilana, Michael and Dwight, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. You know, normal best friends with normal interactions, like when Air Force One landed in Israel and Trump greeted Bibi, “Hello, my friend,” to which Bibi replied “Welcome, my good friend” Because that’s normal. As awkward as Trump was all over Bibi’s country (see the cutesy yearbook note he left at Yad Vashem for reference), apparently he didn’t make it friendship-ruining weird. Where some of us pettier world leaders might’ve kicked him out of our lunch table, it looks like Trump’s still there and paying for Bibi’s chocolate milk.

Ignoring the dystopic betchy high school I’ve forever burned into your minds, this friendship is not all bad. In fact, we found out at Cyber Week that we’re getting a bilateral cybersecurity group out of it. Which is, by most accounts, almost as good as free chocolate milk. The group, led by White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce, will work to defend critical infrastructure and track down malicious actors. Trump’s assistant for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism announced at Cyber Week that the group would meet for the first time this week to talk “critical infrastructure, advanced R&D, international cooperation and workforce.” And like, has Modi even been asked to prom yet?

The aim of this group has described as using an Iron Dome approach to cyber, which is precisely the defense strategy we need for the decades to come. It’s tempting to think cyberattacks are all 4Chan trolls and Jennifer Lawrence’s nudes, but it’s a whole lot more than that and lives are on the line when an attack goes as planned. Often many, many more lives than a conventional terrorist attack. In general, it would be much appreciated if Trump and Bibi could quit the circle jerk, but as far as cyber’s concerned, let’s hope this group takes us from talking loosely about establishing a set of norms to actually building an internationally cooperative infrastructure for defending against cyberattack. Because terrorists are like, so not fetch.

New Investment in “Digital Israel” Initiative

This morning, the Ministry of Social Equality announced a 1.3 billion NIS investment in “Digital Israel”, a program aimed at:

  1. Reducing wealth disparities by decreasing living costs and promoting healthcare and welfare in more rural areas.
  2. Promote digital industry and businesses while building a stronger employment infrastructure for the industry.
  3. Increase the usability of government ministries and local governments, making them more accessible to citizens.

Because as it currently stands, if there’s one thing Israeli government bureaucracy is not, it’s user friendly. Although still early in the development phase, you can get a slightly more specific sense for what the initiative entails here. To me, this seems like a pretty smart investment. Increasingly, digital literacy is the key to economic mobility, so making education and government services a priority for the working class is a huge growth opportunity. Because this initiative spans everything from healthcare to user experience for government sites, it seems like they still need to take some time to define their own goals before they can start affecting change. That being said, this early stage investment is a great start.