Comptroller Engelman at Tel Aviv University’s International Cyber Week: “Significant deficiencies were found in the Central Elections Committee’s preparedness for cyber threats” (June 29, 2022)

“We are exposed and unprotected, living in a global Big Brother show; World War III will be a cyber-war, which the world is unprepared for; penetration tests performed by us have exposed many deficiencies”

Photo Credit: Cyber Week at Tel Aviv University

State Comptroller Matanyahu Engelman participated today (June 29, 2022) in Tel Aviv University’s annual cyber convention and, for the first time, gave a comprehensive review of the cyber auditing conducted by him since assuming his position, when he established a special cyber division. 

“Cyber is now more important than ever”, Engelman stated. “In a sense, we all live in a global Big Brother show. As State Comptroller of Israel and Vice President of EUROSAI, I must share a rather dire observation with you: We are exposed. Citizens of the world have no protection. Our data are exposed to too many people. Our money is exposed, as are our children, our health, and our security. World War III will be a cyber-war, but the world is unprepared for it.

Upon assuming my current position as State Comptroller, and in light of the increasing cyber threats faced by Israel in recent years, I decided to place the cyber threat as one of the core issues to be dealt with by the Comptroller’s office. A cyber auditing division and a special division for auditing information systems have been established. At first, there were those who raised an eyebrow. Today there is no one who does not understand the importance of this matter. The international auditors' organization too has determined that such protection of information systems is one of the greatest risks.”

Engelman told that as part of the cyber audits he examined privacy protection, control and protection mechanisms of computerized systems, investment in IT, early deployment for cyber events and disaster recovery, cyber-attacks and damage to critical national infrastructure. And more. In addition, he instructed to have penetration tests performed by hacker companies on behalf of the State Comptroller’s office. 

“A report on the computer system of Israel’s Central Elections Committee found that its main computer system began operating in 2008 and celebrated its “Bar Mitzvah” (became 13 years old) last year. And yet, cyber audits were conducted only during election periods; therefore, it was not possible to conduct comprehensive and complex tests including all aspects required for cyber security.

Over the last year, we performed penetration tests in the Jerusalem Traffic Management Center, in hospitals, and in Tax Authority systems. The audits revealed significant deficiencies, including the fact that very few penetration tests were performed by public bodies, some only during audits. We at the State Comptroller’s office undertake to continue giving this significant issue high priority, for the citizens of Israel and the whole world.”