Israel’s operational authority for cyber defense will debut at least a year later than planned due to election-driven budgetary limbo and lingering disputes over roles and missions, experts here say.
Described by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “a new air force to deal with new threats,” the Operative cyber Defense Authority (OCDA) aims to bridge security and civilian sectors and protect national “space” from cyber attacks.
Netanyahu decided in September to establish the new operational authority as part of the National cyber Bureau (NCB), an organization he created in 2011 to coordinate and administer cyber policy and standards.
His decision ostensibly ended protracted turf battles between NCB and Shin Bet, the domestic security service responsible for protecting critical civilian infrastructure for more than a decade.
The new authority, Netanyahu asserted in a widely publicized Sept. 21 announcement, “would see to defending the entire State of Israel on the cyber issue. That is, defending not only important facilities and security organizations, but how to defend Israeli citizens against these attacks.”
NCB Director Eviatar Matania was given 60 days to submit “a multiyear plan in cooperation with other relevant agencies” for Security Cabinet approval.
But security sources and experts here said Matania’s plan is far from finished and he hasn’t yet found a figure with the requisite gravitas and expertise to lead the new organization.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Isaac Ben-Israel chaired the task force that pushed to create the NCB and personally recommended Matania — a former subordinate — to head the bureau. He also was a principal influence behind Netanyahu’s decision to establish the new OCDA and transfer authority long held by Shin Bet.
In a Dec. 10 interview, Ben-Israel acknowledged that “things are stuck in government.”