Putting Up a Digital Defense: Lessons From Israel
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce mission focusing on national security landed in Israel today. Former Secretary of Homeland Security and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is leading the delegation. Last year he was named chairman of the chamber's National Security Task Force.
One crucial focus of the trip will be cybersecurity, an issue that has taken on increased importance in the last several months after the Pentagon accused Iran of launching computer-based attacks against the financial infrastructure of the United States, targeting several American banks. Iran is also accused of hacking into the computer system of Saudi Arabia's largest oil company Saudi Aramco and deleting important information.
In a statement Tom Ridge said "both politically and economically, Israel is one of our most significant allies globally and our most important ally in the Middle East. Ensuring an environment of shared information and integrated technologies that have defense and security capabilities is crucial to the economic cohesion between the United States and Israel and between companies that operate in both countries."
Boeing, Oracle and the American arm of the German shipping giant DHL are among the companies on the mission. The representatives from those companies will meet with their counterparts at Israeli companies and in the Israeli government over the next several days.
Those representatives will also have a private briefing with Evytar Matanya, a legend in Israel's security industry. He recently became Israel's first head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau reporting directly to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week his department announced plans to fund research and development that serve both Israel's private sector and Israel's military establishment.
Those are the kinds of things Ann Beauchesne, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Vice President of National Security and Emergency Preparedness, wants the U.S. companies on this trip to learn about. She believes those public-private partnerships that are common in Israel need to become more common in the United States.
Specifically Beauchesne wants the American companies on the mission to learn how Israeli government and Israeli private companies to interact and cooperate when it comes to cybersecurity and defense. She says "the trip will be a success if American companies can return to the U.S. and develop better working relationships with Congress, the Homeland Security Department and the rest of the American government based on what they've learned in Israel." She also wants U.S. companies to find partners in the Israeli government and in the Israeli private sector to work with and partner with in the future.
During the mission American companies will also attend the Israel Homeland Security 2012 conference in Tel Aviv which is scheduled for this week. Secretary Ridge will address the convention. Law enforcement leaders from all over the world will attend the conference including the police chiefs of Atlanta, Chicago and Milan, Italy. In addition the director of security for the 2016 Brazil Olympic Games Organizing Committee will also be in attendance.
—By CNBC's Jason Gewirtz