Texas-Israel Cyber Security Conference
Securing Critical Infrastructure
At the Texas-Israel Cybersecurity Conference in Dallas, TX on May 31, Secretary Rick Perry, Chairman Michael McCaul, and Congressman John Ratcliffe all spoke to the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship concerning energy and cybersecurity and the strategic significance of Texas in this regard.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said, “We’re delivering American liquefied natural gas to almost 30 countries today…as a matter of fact, the first shipment of LNG into Israel should be arriving today if not tomorrow. That’s the impact that we’re having.”
Secretary Perry also commented on the implementation agreement for the U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy, Engineering, and Water, which US Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Israeli Energy Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz intended to sign at the May 31st conference. The U.S. Congress appropriated $4 million for the Center in March 2018, and Israel will match these funds.
“We were just talking about the Israeli US Energy Initiative and the opportunities that are there. I know that my counter Minister Steinitz was going to be here today. We’re going to be able to sign a document in the not too distant future that allows for our countries to more closely work together on the energy sector."
Later in the day, Chairman McCaul and Congressman Ratcliffe announced their Co-Chairmanship of the Texas-Israel Cybersecurity Alliance , which is “an innovative body within the Texas-Israel Alliance that engages industry leaders on US-Israel partnerships in strategic cybersecurity technology,” according to the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman George Seay.
Conference Chairman, Doug Deason, added, “The mission of the Texas-Israel Cybersecurity Alliance is to develop government and business relationships in cybersecurity, and Chairman McCaul and Congressman Ratcliffe are essential leaders in this effort.”
Chairman McCaul told attendees, “Our adversaries are waging a silent war against us in cyberspace; turning digital breakthroughs into digital bombs. Throughout my time as Chairman, I’ve made strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority and have taken important steps to address this issue. I commend the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce for promoting this issue and hosting this watershed event.”
During the conference, Congressman Ratcliffe updated attendees on the progress of the US-Israel Cybersecurity Working Group initiative launched by the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister's Office in 2017, “The most important thing is it’s working. That working group has been able to leverage that law to great success. This summer I’m going to give a report about how our two countries can expand that program because the success has initially been so profound.”
The conference began with Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Dallas Field Office, William Noonan, leading a panel discussion on “Government Coordination with Enterprise on Cyber Security Threat Management" with representatives from Delek US, AT&T, and Vinson & Elkins LLP.
Later, Chief Technology Officer for the State of Texas, John Hoffman, led a panel discussion on “Comprehending Vulnerabilities and Identifying Protective Technologies,” featuring representatives from Dell, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Ryan Corporation.
After lunch, Pete Chilian, Dallas Market Manager for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, and Rakesh Loonkar, Co-Founder and President of Transmit Security, discussed the Israeli cybersecurity landscape. Rakesh spoke to the global competitiveness of Israeli cybersecurity firms, partly due to a pioneering culture that enforces perseverance and willingness to fail, something Big. Gen. Nadav Zafrir also touched on at the end of the day.
As founder of the Israel Defense Forces Cyber Command and former commander of the IDF Technology & Intelligence Unit 8200, Brig. Gen. Nadav Zafrir presented to the audience how this elite unit of Israel's military contributes to Israel's global dominance in the cybersecurity sector. After only a few years and having tackled some of the most complex challenges facing nations today, members emerge as knowledgable and competent leaders, creating and leading the most successful technology companies in the industry.
During the afternoon session, Prof. Dan Blumberg, Head of R&D and Homeland Security at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, presented the audience with cybersecurity anecdotes and escapades. Blumberg recounted how Ben-Gurion's systems were targeted by a foreign power in an attempt to use the academic institution as a stepping stone to a larger target.