The cyber space presents an opportunity for economic growth and social welfare and takes a growing place in our lives as individuals and as a society. Cyber threats, on the other hand, are increasing, creating negative effects on individuals, societies and organizations, and posing new dangers (on a national level) on national security, social order and economy.
The State of Israel is one of the first countries in the world to recognize the importance of protecting critical computer systems. The initial groundwork for the national cyberspace defense took place in 2002, when the Israeli government appointed the Information Security Agency (ISA) to be responsible for guiding civilian bodies that operate critical computerized systems on a national level. Following this decision, a supreme navigation committee was set up with the goals of synchronizing and comprehensively overlooking at the efforts to defend the country from cyber-attacks and was led by the Head of the National Security Council. The establishment of the committee as well as the defense activities of the Prime Minister were a groundbreaking government effort on a global level in the field of cyber defense, and made a significant contribution to strengthen the protection of critical infrastructures and developing knowledge and capabilities in Israel.
In 2010, with the development of cyber threats, the Prime Minister of Israel ordered the formation of a special team to formulate a national plan to position Israel among the five leading countries in the cyberspace. The committee, which was called the National Cyber Initiative, was led by the National Council for Civilian Research and Development and led by Major General (res.) Yitzhak Ben-Israel, and included representatives of the main organizations involved in the field. As part of its work, the committee examined Israel's essential components of competing within the cyberspace and analyzed the national benefits in terms of economics, academia and national security.
On the basis of the conclusions of the National Cyber Initiative, the Government of Israel adopted Resolution No. 3611 on August 7, 2011, to promote national cyber capabilities. At the center of the decision was the establishment of the National Cyber Bureau, which would be under the supervision of the Prime Minister of Israel. Among other things, the Cyber Bureau was responsible for formulating the national policy and strategy in the cyber field, advancing national defense processes and regulating them, developing national capabilities in the cyberspace and establishing international cooperation and the status of the State of Israel as a leading country in this field. Additionally, the Chief of Staff was appointed as Chairman of the Supreme Navigating Committee. Dr. Eviatar Matanya, who took up his post at the beginning of 2012, was appointed as the first Head of the Cyber Bureau.
On the basis of the strategy formulated by the Cyber Bureau with all the relevant bodies, on February 15, 2015, the Israeli government adopted two decisions. The first, Resolution 2443, deals with the strategy of building the withstanding and resilience of the civilian economy, and in particular the government's preparations in relation to the economy and within the government. The second, Resolution 2444, deals with the strategy of operational defense of the civilian economy, the connection of all the national defense bodies to joint action in cyber defense, and in particular the establishment of the National Cyber Security Authority. The Authority's mission was to protect the Israeli cyber space and its main responsibilities were to manage all operational defense efforts in the cyberspace, to operate a center to assist in dealing with cyber threats and to strengthen the resilience of the entire economy in the field. In accordance with Resolution 2444, the Authority, as the operative body for cyber protection, and the Cyber Bureau, as the body responsible for the policies and the cyber force buildup, jointly constituted the National Cyber Directorate operating under the Prime Minister's Office, directly under the Prime Minister. The head of the Cyber Bureau was also appointed head of the Directorate and was in charge of approving the work plans of the Authority and the budget of the Bureau.
The Authority began to act upon defending the entire civilian economy on April 1, 2016, 90 days after Buki Carmeli was appointed head of the Authority. Specifically in accordance with the temporary provision in the Law for the Regulation of Security in Public Bodies of August 2016, the responsibility was transferred to all the critical state infrastructures (except the communication bodies) from the ISA to the Authority in a process that took about a year.
In 2017, all the cyber Bureau' technological activities were integrated into the Cyber Technologies Unit, which is the national technology arm for advancing cyber capabilities and technologies on a national level. At the same time, the unit of identification and biometric applications was integrated into the Cyber Bureau.
At the end of 2017, on the basis of the recommendation of the head of the Alignment to the Prime Minister, the Government of Israel decided, in Decision No. 3270, to unite the two national cyberspace bodies - the Cyber National Bureau and the National Cyber Security Authority - into one organizational unit. The government's decision states that the National Cyber Directorate will be responsible for all aspects of cyber defense in the civilian sphere, from formulating policy and building technological power to operational defense in cyberspace. During this time, as Dr. Matanya terminated his position as Head of the Directorate after his six-year term, Yigal Unna was named his successor and took office at the beginning of 2018.
At the cabinet meeting in which the decision was made to unite, the Prime Minister said: "The government will reach a very significant decision today, under my recommendation, to unite two authorities into one central organization that will manage all the cyber defense. A few years ago I decided that Israel will be one of the five cyber powers in the world, and indeed, we are meeting this goal."