By Al Shams | Business Sense

Israel, always exposed to physical attack by its enemies, also has been subjected to numerous cyberattacks and has been forced to devote considerable resources to cyberdefense. Not surprisingly, Israel is now a world leader in this new area of conflict.

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Photos courtesy Baker Donelson | Forum participants include Oded Shorer (left), the director of economic and trade affairs for the Israeli Consulate and husband of the new consul general to the Southeast, and Israeli Col. (res.) Rami Efrati, founder and president of Firmitas Cyber Solutions.

As part of its Israel and the American South Initiative, the international law firm Baker Donelson, along with Georgia Tech, hosted a forum Aug. 20 and 21 on developments in cybersecurity and the impact of cybercrime on technology, manufacturing, health care, infrastructure and society at large.

John Scannapieco, a partner in Baker Donelson’s Nashville office and co-chairman of the firm’s global business team, provided introductory remarks and served as the moderator of the program, called Securing Your Future.

Partners in the forum included the Israeli Consulate General to the Southeast, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector, the Georgia Economic Development Department, the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

G.P. “Bud” Peterson, the new president of Georgia Tech, provided insight into the breadth and depth of the university’s contribution to the world of technology and its huge impact on Georgia’s economy. Tech’s accomplishments and achievements place it in the same league as such universities as Caltech, MIT and Carnegie Mellon.

Some of the major points I gleaned from the forum:

  • Cyberthreats are here to stay. We cannot turn back the clock. The world of computers and digital communications has permeated every aspect of our lives with great benefits, but cybercrime is the downside. We must learn to confront and deal with this challenge.
  • Georgia Tech, along with a number of small, innovative companies, has led metro Atlanta’s development into an important center for cybersecurity systems.

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    Alisa Chestler chairs Baker Donelson’s privacy and information security team.

  • Clete Johnson, a lawyer representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, believes that cybercrime represents a great threat to the national security and economic health of the United States.
  • Geography and distance do not offer any defense against cybercrime. In effect, foreign cyberboots are already on U.S. soil. This dimension of the threat is a first in U.S. history.
  • U.S. corporations must devote significantly more resources toward defending their enterprise systems. One speaker said insurance companies will require a more robust defensive effort.
  • No organization is immune from attack. Do not take comfort in the fact you have not been hacked; it’s only a matter of time. Elbit Systems, an Israeli leader in cybersecurity, has been the subject of numerous well-planned attacks. Georgia Tech is under constant attack.
  • The threat is asymmetrical. A small group with limited resources can do immense economic, social and political damage.
  • Modest changes to procedures and protocol can greatly reduce the threat. All of those on enterprise systems must be aware of the threat and act prudently.
  • Someone with a grievance can use the cyberworld to strike back far more easily than he can use the court system.

Some brilliant minds are working hard to minimize the threat.