Moments of scandal within the IDF are rare, but oh boy, when they do happen, they don’t seem to be light ones. That was the first thought I had when I updated my news brief last night and the news ‘Israel’s armed forces shocked at dismissal of missile defence chief‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/28/israel-armed-forces-shocked-dismissal-missile-defence-chief-yair-ramati) caressed my pupils. Yair Ramati an Israeli veteran was sacked for a “grave breach of information security”, the added quote “Israeli media reports said Ramati had broken protocol when he transferred documents to his computer, making them easier to steal” was an additional reason for concern. Israel, a nation that has been under attack for decades, where Muslim fanatics will seek any way to get a hold of information that can further any anti-Israeli cause got a little help when Yair Ramati transferred documents to his personal computer. Now the issue is not that simple, because I myself tend to hold much higher levels of protection on my own computer than the corporate networks tend to have, as such it would be safe, but infrastructure and the rules on them are clear in most networks, even more so in the slightly less trusting environment of the IDF, so what gives?
In the world of cyber, ignorance is no longer an option, ignorance can quite literally get you and your friends killed. Socially, Financially or actually killed in a death certificate kind of way, the IDF (read: Mossad Cyber division) is very aware of that and for a person like Yair Ramati to make a mistake like that, is it complacency or just plain stupidity?
Well, I am less on the side of stupidity, because stupid people do not head the Iron Dome project, they just remain janitors; so should we ‘over-analyse’ this? Yes we should, mainly because complacency is a massive issue. We all do this at times. Any person who states no is either lying to you or will soon be lying to you. We all drop the ball at times, the error might be small and it will not be to the extent of copying files to a personal computer, but those moments will happen. Phishers, hackers and others are all awaiting you to make that basic flaw one day. The only excuse where such a flaw might be excused (to some extent) is burnout. We get to be too exhausted and in one moment we think ‘oh whatever’ the moment you endanger it all.
That is the moment we need to worry about, because it will always happen.
ABC had an interesting quote “Three people familiar with Mr Ramati said, on condition of anonymity, that he had improperly handled classified documents but was not accused of criminal misconduct like espionage“(at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-28/israeli-missile-defence-director-dismissed-over-security-breach/7056400). From the data I have on Yair Ramati I feel like I should explicitly agree (not that my view can be expertly vetted), but a man like Yair Ramati with decades of loyal service does not commit espionage as I see it, the state of Israel will use his services again and again and with the last three years of missile attacks, I reckon burn out set in and Yair Ramati had his ‘oh whatever‘ moment. This event is a wakeup call for the Israeli security services in more than one way, because this situation could have more than one person in such a predicament. Some of the boffins at the IDF are in dire need of some mental health support, not in the way that they are unbalanced, they actually are, as some of them are exhausted!
A side Hamas and Hezbollah might be hoping for at present, you see when the really good ones are too tired mistakes are made and those mistakes will be exploited. And these exploitation might be on an additional side too. You see, as ABC reported “Israel has received hundreds of millions of dollars in US funding for the three missile defence systems, whose private contractors include Boeing Co, Raytheon, and Elbit Systems“, what happens when its main conductor is no longer creating the symphony? What will that mean for the product at large? We might focus on Iron dome, but the stretch goes a lot further than this. Consider places like Ashot Ashkelon Industries Ltd. People like Haim Defrin and Julian Cohen, unlike the board with people like Avi Felder, Yoram Shechter, Yehuda Gai et al. Haim and Julian are in the thick of things. With additional military pressures and of course the responsibility to get the highest quality, they are under constant need (read: pressure) to deliver, when were they taken aside, to unwind, educate them on common cyber sense and when were their stress levels reduced? Not to mention their parent company IMI (Israel Military Industries). For every organisation, there tends to be an In Bitching Mode overall whining umbrella corporation, nes paz?
So in that light, it is not entirely impossible that Udi Adam and Avi Felder at IMI could be facing dilemmas of a similar kind within their infrastructure, the question becomes, is it happening, is it containable and unlike the step made now by sacking Yair Ramati, can a solution be found to reinvigorate the soul of the loyal population that has been pushed and pushed again and again?
You see, some might see the transgression by Yair Ramati as a part of legal and security (not debating that), but we all forget that Common Cyber Sense is equally Operations, Strategy and HR. HR has a much bigger role to play, because if this is stress and burnout, than it is clear in my view that HR failed the people who have been loyal to their infrastructure, success all the time is an illusion, a person will fail to some extent, the issue is to make sure that the damage is averted. I cannot state whether this was an option for Yair Ramati due to the size of the transgression, but certain questions are asked to the lesser extent. It is the Guardian quote “The former director of the Israeli atomic energy commission, Uzi Eilam, told Israel Radio he had known Ramati for 30 years and found the news hard to believe“, in a place like Israel, when a person with 3 decades of knowledge has an issue, my view is that the dismissal might not be an overreaction, but the issues leading to this are a lot more important than we realise and another set of proper investigations (by the right people) is an essential next step.
Ignorance is not an option and the question becomes was that ignorance just in the court of Yair Ramati, or had that ball been dropped by his superiors in another field at an earlier stage?
It is not a question I can answer with the information I have, but there are enough indicators to ask that question out loud, now it is up to the right people over there to ask a similar question and it is up to them to do some proper investigations.