Israeli and Aussie experts talk ransomware
Cyber Study Tour Launch

Israeli and Aussie experts talk ransomware

If you pay the ransom, your data will be free, though the hacker will still have access to it and can hold it for ransom again, even after you've patched the vulnerability.

Alastair MacGibbon (left) and Asaf Kochan (right).
Alastair MacGibbon (left) and Asaf Kochan (right).

Artificial Intelligence solutions like ChatGPT will help ransomware hackers by creating more sophisticated phishing attempt emails, Israeli Retired Brigadier General Asaf Kochan told an Australian audience last week.

Kochan, who was in charge of the elite 8200 Unit – the Military Intelligence Directorate’s main information gathering unit – went on to co-found Israeli cybersecurity company Sentra.

He participated in a Zoom briefing last week with one of Australia’s top cyber experts, Alastair MacGibbon, a former adviser to the Prime Minister who is now chief strategy officer for CyberCX.

MacGibbon asked Kochan about the success of Israel’s cyber ecosystem over the years, new threats on the cyber horizon and Israel’s role in managing evolving cyber challenges. They also discussed global preparedness and awareness of cyber threats in the wider community, the business model of cyber crime and the difference between international crime groups and nation state threats.

The issue for mainstream Australians and New Zealanders, Kochan said, is knowing what to do when dealing with a ransomware threat.

If you pay the ransom, your data will be free, though the hacker will still have access to it and can hold it for ransom again, even after you’ve patched the vulnerability. Other hackers may also see you as a target for future attacks because they can gain something monetarily.

If you don’t pay the ransom, you will lose the data. The hacker may also share your company’s vulnerabilities on the dark web, making your business ripe for further attacks. This can weaken your business until you have no choice but to pay after all, which might by then be an even higher amount.

In short, he said, there is no one answer. Each hack needs to be assessed case-by-case.

The discussion was the launch event for the Israel Trade Commission (ITC) and Trans-Tasman Business Circle’s Israel Cyber Study Tour, which will coincide with Israel Cyber Week in late June.

“Israel’s military and cyber capabilities are intertwined; Australia and New Zealand could not be further away from this sentiment, meaning there is much to learn on a trade delegation to Israel,” ITC senior trade officer Jeremy Ungar said.

“All-in-all, Israeli cyber is the cream of the crop.”

The ITC provided a panel of vendors after the presentations to showcase what to expect at Israel Cyber Week – a synergy of professional panel discussions and a vendor exhibition.

One panellist joined from an Israeli/American Team8 founded company called Sygnia. They provide consulting at the highest level, sharing war stories about dealing with hackers. Another panellist was from a company with identity protection solutions.

There are spots for SME and corporate Australian and New Zealanders to join the June delegation to Tel Aviv.

Watch the panel:

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