Israel Intelligence ‘Complacent or Overly Confident’


Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks
Fraud Management & Cybercrime

Former Deputy National Security Adviser in Israel on Resilience of Cyber Defenses

Chuck Freilich, senior fellow, Belfer Center, Harvard

Israeli intelligence is considered one of the best, yet it failed to anticipate a major attack launched by Hamas over the weekend. Harvard professor Chuck Freilich said this oversight has had a profound impact on the Israeli people, “shattering what was very deep faith in the intelligence agencies and in the IDF as a whole.”

See Also: How to Reduce Compliance and Risk Workload to Increase Cybersecurity Revenue for Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs)

“This was a colossal intelligence failure,” said Freilich, senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, political science lecturer and author. “There’s no doubt about that and, like other intelligence failures, Israeli and otherwise, in the end, it’s a failure to not have imagination.”

“Maybe our intelligence agencies became a little bit complacent or overly confident. In the end, like in all other cases, it’s already turning out that there were signs there. There were warning signs that should have been picked up and were misinterpreted,” he said.

Freilich’s advice to people and organizations in the coming weeks is to “be especially careful about phishing attacks and all sorts of potential imposters on the various social media.”

In this video interview with Information Security Media Group, Freilich discussed:

  • Israel’s potential intelligence and failures and Hamas’ strategies leading up to the attack;

  • The apparent absence of an all-out cyber campaign by Hamas;

  • The future of cyber conflict in the region and its implications for national security.

Freilich, a former deputy national security adviser in Israel and long-time senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center, has taught political science at Harvard, Columbia, NYU and Tel Aviv University. He is the author of “Zion’s Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy,” “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” and “Israel and the Cyber Threat: How the Startup Nation Became a Global Cyber Power.”


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