U.S. and Israel team up to fight `bad actors' in cyberspace

(Bloomberg) -- Israel and the U.S. are starting a high-level partnership to create a bulwark against increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers who target critical national infrastructure.

The bilateral working group will be led by White House cyber security coordinator Rob Joyce and the head of Israel’s Cyber Bureau, Eviatar Matania, according to Tom Bossert, U.S. President Donald Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. From the U.S. side, the group will include congressmen, FBI agents and members of the defense and homeland security departments; Israel will send representatives from the Shin Bet internal security service, the foreign affairs, justice and defense ministries, and the military.

The aim will be to find and stop cyber attackers “before they’re in networks, before they reach critical infrastructure, and identify ways to hold bad actors accountable,” Bossert said Monday at a cyber security conference in Tel Aviv.

The stronger cyber ties follow meetings between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February and May, and after the U.S. passed legislation in January expanding joint cyber research with Israel. State security in cyberspace is becoming a growing concern amid a flurry of attacks on government targets -- including, an attack last week on the email accounts of about 90 U.K. lawmakers -- and a ransomware attack last month that crippled computer systems around the world.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, cyber attacks are a national security danger, causing billions of dollars in damage annually to the global economy.

“We must get serious about deterrent strategy. The stakes are too high not to,” Bossert said. The U.S. will seek bilateral partnerships to deal with the threat until an international coalition is created, he said.

Netanyahu told the conference about 20 percent of global private investment in cyber security last year came to Israel.

“We are ready to cooperate with other countries and with other governments because in general, and I say this with reservations, we succeed better together,” Netanyahu said.

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