Israel is a global leader in the cybersecurity and surveillance industry as it occupies a whopping 41% of the global investment in this business and it is worth $82 billion. The country has developed an ecosystem of firms connected with its military operations which perform key research and development in cutting-edge cyber defense and attack technologies like face recognition, internet monitoring, biometric data collection, and spyware.
The country has set up centers of intelligence such as the Tel-Aviv University, Advanced Technologies Park in Beer-Sheva as well the Israel Defense Forces where a series of steps from training and education, talent acquisition, and testing are taken on a daily basis. Such a holistic approach helped push Israel ahead of its competition and potential attacks due to constant growth in the sector.
A framework for collaboration was developed between the various centers of growth in the creation, testing, and implementation of such technologies where a constant generational leap is necessary. This was done by an impetus and initiative taken by the government itself which partook minimally in the transaction of information between universities, firms, and the military.
It is only due to a vigilant study of cyber threats and comprehensive foresight that Israel is now leading the world in defensive cybersecurity technologies. However, the country’s moral stance behind its dominance and monopoly in this unregulated and unpredictable area of defense services is being questioned.
A recent finding highlighted by Amnesty International has put the intentions of Israel under scrutiny since a spyware software called Pegasus, developed by one of its leading firms NSO Group, was found tracking the phones of journalists, human rights activists, and politicians around the world.
It is not only a matter of oversight that the Israeli government failed to keep its highly sensitive and dangerous tech under check but also that it must have known where and in what capacity its licensed services were used.
All the tech that Israel’s companies produce is actually military contracts which Israel uses on its own turf against its own enemies (mostly the Palestinians in the West Bank). It is no wonder that Israel did not bat an eye to misuse on such a scale by other belligerent governments.
Washington Post reported NSO spokesperson defending themselves and most irresponsibly denying any accountability, “NSO called the investigation’s findings exaggerated and baseless. It also said it does not operate the spyware licensed to its clients and “has no insight” into their specific intelligence activities.”
Lately, cyber hacking and any such form of illegal, anti-humanitarian use of technology have become a mainstay of the global order where governments are involved in tracking dissenters and curbing them beforehand.
Israel is one of the nations which is found guilty of using such technology in monitoring Palestinians. The government utilizes its homegrown state-of-the-art surveillance systems such as facial recognition in its occupied territories where a network of cameras track the movements of millions of Palestinians, all in the name of humble defense.
In May, when the world was cowering from the deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, Israeli defense personnel were attacking Hamas in the Gaza strip, all from the comfort of an underground bunker using cutting edge surveillance, tracking, and targeting technologies that were meant to defend cyber attacks and neutralize terrorists.