Israel appoints ex-general as head of government cyber security

Jerusalem (Reuters) – Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of retired military intelligence general Gaby Portnoy to head the country’s National Cyber Directorate, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Portnoy will replace Yigal Unna, who stepped down last month, as chief of cyber security.

The Cyber Directorate is the main body charged with defending Israel’s cyberspace and advancing the build-up of its cyber strength. It works to strengthen the protection of organizations and citizens in dealing with cyber attacks and in preparing for emergencies.

Israeli government websites and companies face thousands of attacks daily but most are thwarted.

Portnoy, 52, is chief operating officer of high-tech firm EnVizon Medical.

Prior to that, he spent 31 years in the armed forces, serving in senior positions including head of operations for the Intelligence Corps, retiring with the rank of brigadier-general.

Israel’s cyber sector is one of the country’s fastest growing, raising $8.8 billion in 2021 to triple the amount of 2020. Another 40 Israeli cyber firms were bought by foreign companies for a total of $3.5 billion, while Israeli cyber exports reached $11 billion in 2021.

The directorate said 40% of the private global investment in cybersecurity funding rounds are in Israel.