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Cybersecurity is a team sport: Deborah Housen-Couriel

Israeli cybersecurity expert Deborah Housen-Couriel, was speaking to students at Christ University, Bangalore where she said, “It is the time when young students like you should come forward and start working to make our web space safer.”

Cybersecurity and data protection are critical components of national security and should be given high importance, said Deborah Housen-Couriel, Israeli researcher and cybersecurity expert. She was talking at a seminar on ‘Women in Cybersecurity’, at the Christ University, Bangalore. 

The two countries India and Israel are known as the start-up nations, and share a lot more similarities, despite their demographic and geographic differences, she said. Israel is a tiny nation with a population of 86 lakhs in 22,145 sq.km. India has a population of 133 crores in 3,287,263 sq. km. India is currently under the wave of Digital India transformation; Israel is home to more than 300 multinational companies that have set-up their research and development centres there.

Israel National Cyber Bureau (INCB) is more than 20 years old. Considering human capital as its greatest asset, the country sensitizes and trains its students in cybersecurity from as early as sixth grade. Its more than 200 cybersecurity startups have garnered big PE investments from across the globe and many of them are eyed as cybersecurity leaders of sorts. 

Housen-Couriel requested computer science students to take up cybersecurity studies, and also invited them to Israel for higher studies. Inspiring the female students to strive to reach leadership positions in the security and cybersecurity fields, she assured help to anyone who wants to pursue future studies in Israel. According to latest stats, by 2022 there will be a shortage of 1.8 million information security workers, she said.

“Bringing people from different countries and putting in the ideas can secure our cyber space. Expertise from different countries will help secure the cyber space better. It is a team sport, and best results include diverse perspectives”, she said. As India is passing through a phase of devising and implementing cyber laws and policies, Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the international law is a must-read for everyone.

Dana Kursh, the Consul General of the State of Israel in Bengaluru, cited the example of Nirmala Sitharaman, the Defence Minister of India, as an example of women empowerment in India. “You have a great example like her. In Israel women haven't reached such top positions, especially in an important ministry like Defence. Giving such leadership positions is very inspiring and I hope someday we will have this too.”

Latha Reddy, India’s former Deputy National Security Advisor and a Cyber Security expert said, “We need to have strong women voices in our national debates. Security was not traditionally considered for women; but we have done well for the past couple of years. I would suggest we should have proper cyber education program.”

“We need to have cybersecurity education in schools, TVs, Radio channels, newspapers. It needs proper budget allocation and wise use of proper media. We must make sure people are aware about basic cyber hygiene. We also need to scale-up women’s presence in leadership positions and also they should be a part of policy making.”