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Israel shares best practices in cyber protection of the financial sector with the Bankers Association of the Philippines.

The Embassy of Israel in Manila and the Israel Economic & Commercial Mission to the Philippines, in cooperation with the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), hosted a virtual event last Feb. 16 focusing on cybersecurity entitled “Optimizing Cyber Protection of the Financial Sector: Best Practices from Israel.”

The program was divided into two parts: introducing the unique model of protecting financial institutions in Israel, and pitching of Israeli leading companies with innovative cybersecurity technologies and solutions for the financial sector.

Tomer Heyvi, economic counsellor and head of the Mission, shared that the purpose of this event is to share the Israeli expertise and technologies in the cybersecurity field in light of the growing challenges and threats that financial institutions around the world, including the Philippines, are facing these days.

In his opening remarks, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Ilan Fluss shared, “My vision for the future of relations between Israel and the Philippines is to see growth in cooperation in innovation and technologies especially in these critical and sensitive areas. Israel has proven itself as a reliable and solid partner of the Philippines, therefore, I believe we should see more partnerships in the cybersecurity area.”

In the first session of the program, Governor Benjamin E. Diokno of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas shared his insights on Philippines Cybersecurity ecosystem and challenges in the financial sector.

In his speech, Governor Diokno mentioned some key areas for collaboration such as threat intelligence platform and setting up a national CERT, given the industry-wide initiatives in the Philippines and the maturity and sophistications of Israel in terms of cybersecurity controls and management.

“I hope this session will strengthen ties and cooperation between Israel and the Philippines so that our respective financial services sectors remain safe, innovative and resilient in the digital economy,” Mr. Diokno added.

Additionally, Jose Arnulfo A. Veloso, BAP president, highlighted in his remarks that cybersecurity remains to be a top priority of the association. He shared a number of advocacies of the BAP to promote and intensify its cybersecurity framework in the Philippine banking and financial services sector. “Together with the partnership of the guests in this forum, we can take them [cyberthreats] head on,” he noted.

Doron Liberman, director of International Cooperation Development in the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD), in his remarks shared the Israeli national approach and strategy to the cybersecurity ecosystem as a whole in the civilian sphere. “The INCD looks at its constituencies in different layers: critical infrastructure, sectoral and general public,” he said.

Mr. Liberman further shared that the INCD is a national agency that provides national intelligence and active defense tools and methodologies, and awareness events where their assistance is needed.

Rahav Shalom-Revivo, head of Financial-Cyber Innovation and International Engagements from the Israel Ministry of Finance, shared the multinational financial cyber simulation that the Ministry executed with countries that Israel has financial cyber relations with. In that simulation, she highlighted that international collaboration is key and that there must be synchronization between finance and cyber decision makers. She added, “The collaborative understanding that only together we can overcome such dramatic attacks that at some point in time will happen in the future.”

A study case highlighting the power of collaboration was shared by Eden Cohen, security head of Security Operation Center of Bank Hapoalim, the largest commercial bank in Israel. In her presentation, she shared that in the last three years, there has been a significant rise in organized cyber crimes towards financial organizations by new and advanced tactics to penetrate the digital world. With this, she highlighted that the best way to handle the new generation-attackers is by collaboration as a necessity to protect ourselves and our customers. She added that collaboration between people, businesses, technology, intelligence, and enforcements is a key factor to be able to face cyber-attacks in a quick and thorough way.

The discussion was followed by a pitching session of four companies offering cybersecurity technologies: Semperis: “Protecting your Active Directory, the keys to your Kingdom”; Trustpeers: “Turn Chaos into a Controlled Event with the TrustPeers Cyber Crisis Management SaaS platform”; Cybowall: “AI Powered Cybersecurity”; and CYE: “Continuous Cyber Risk Visibility — Cyber Risk Quantification — Cyber Exposure Optimization.”

Benjamin Castillo, managing director of the BAP, shared in his closing remarks that the power of collaboration is very important in cybersecurity. He mentioned continuing discussions with INCD and the Israel Ministry of Finance as the BAP continues to explore its options in building a national CERT.

Israel is one of the leaders in cybersecurity expertise around the globe, and it has about 40% of the global cybersecurity investments. Israeli’s cybersecurity industry continued to grow in 2021 with a record of USD 8.8 billion in investments in 131 funding rounds — this was tripled compared to 2020 at US$2.9 billion. Further, 33% of the Cybersecurity unicorns in the world are Israeli.

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