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The competition that brought together senior security officials and Arab experts Israel today

2023-01-29T12:40:44.724Z


With the flags of Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan - and Israel as well: the first event of its kind in Dubai created unusual connections • "This community has many connections," said a senior Israeli security official who was present at the competition of the cyber company "Saitka"


The Israeli hackers celebrated their ascension to the finals in their room at the Armani hotel in Dubai, in the tallest tower in the world Burj Khalifa with some chocolate, cashew nuts and no music.

Here it is not "high-tech", with ostentatious parties, arrogance and disconnection.

Four hours earlier they were sitting in rows, leaning in front of computers.

Next to them are flags from the 24 countries they came from - including the United Arab Emirates, of course, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey and even Syria.

100 competitors, who beat about 10,000 compatriots in competitions organized worldwide by the Israeli cyber company "CyTaka", headed by entrepreneur Doron Amir.

According to Amir, the location of the competition - Dubai - is "a realization of Abraham's agreements".

Hackers from all over the world solve cyber challenges, photo: Uri Berkovich

with sparkling eyes

In the center of the hall stood the attack machine - the server from which the cyber attacks that the competitors tried to repel came out.

When they talk about the competition, they sound from the sidelines like a bunch of men talking with sparkling eyes about football players.

Boasting brilliant moves seen on the field in a secret language that no one but them understands.

After some pressure, they try to explain what happened there that aroused their admiration.

It turns out that the Israelis found an original way to win, which was not only brilliant, at least in their eyes, but also secured them a place in the finals, after finishing the competition in the top ten.

In the current competition, Sam Lee, an American of Malaysian descent, came in first place, returning home with $100,000.

Second place was won by a competitor from India, and third place by a competitor from the Emirates.

In the final that will be held in Dubai this coming March, the first prize will already reach one million dollars.

On the stage together with them were senior officials from the United Arab Emirates, the host of the competition, headed by Dr. Mohammed Al-Khwaiti, head of the UAE Cyber ​​Security Council.

The company's name is projected on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, photo: Uri Berkovich

Beside them - former Interpol senior Vitaly Prilog, Israel's ambassador to the Emirates Amir Hayek, Consul General in Dubai Liron Zaslansky and former senior officials in the Israeli security establishment, such as former head of the Mossad Danny Yatom, head of the first Israeli cyber system Yigal Ona, who just finished his term, and the deputy head of the Shev Formerly Yair (Roli) Sagi.

Like many former members of the security establishment, the three "travel" the world and make their home - private, but also in Israel.

In cyber defense - the junior and senior veterans, as well as the civil cyber companies they establish, work alongside the official organizations and assist them when necessary.

shroud of secrecy

Saitaka is fundamentally different from civilian cyber companies.

This is not another company that develops a defense system, trains cyber personnel or sends "white hackers" (those who protect, not attack).

The company's model and methods of operation are not entirely clear, and a veil of secrecy surrounds it.

On the one hand, this is a company that is run in ambiguity in terms of its location and with an unclear employee status, with unknown investors behind it who invested about 50 million dollars each, apparently, according to a company value of 1 billion dollars.

On the other hand, she appears on billboards that made her a relatively well-known name in the public.

It holds competitions for young and energetic hackers, but under its protection are also the most senior figures in the intelligence organizations.

"The best for cyber" was the company's slogan, with the aim of attracting young people to the hacker competitions held by the company throughout the country - many of them in the periphery.

At the competition it was possible to meet not only the 8200 freedmen, but also the ultra-Orthodox couple Rachel and Natan Uztiaevich from Kiryat, aged 30 or so, who immigrated from Mexico to Israel 12 years ago and who participate in the competition together, solving (and also writing) cyber challenges.

thinking outside the box

So how did it happen that a cyber company that organizes competitions gets the mantle of the Israeli executives, the mysterious investors and the Emirates, and that its name is projected on the Burj Khalifa?

"Anyone you ask him about Saitaka, will tell you something else," one of the participants from the corporate side of the event told us.

One of the Israeli security experts provided a certain explanation: "No, this is not a cyber competitions company", he explained, "through the cyber competitions we filter and identify the stars of the cyber world all over the world, and this community has many more connections."

So is it actually a service company, a product company, a personnel company or even a one-man private army?

"The company is engaged in both consulting and solving issues in the cyber field," explained the security expert.

"For example, when you ask for the company's help in solving a very, very complex issue, there are hundreds and thousands of people who have incentives to solve it with joint forces. This is how we manage to overcome a cyber problem where others have failed."

Saitka behaves exactly like the maneuver of the Israeli cyberists who, in total, attacked the machine server that stood in the center of the hall and attacked them, in order to find out what other exercises-challenges the machine has in store for them to continue.

And if that's not thinking outside the box, then what is?

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Source: israelhayom

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