Hi-5 With a CISO

Gil Polak, Bank of Israel

By Amit Matat
image January 12, 2021 image 2 MIN READ

Hi-5 brings together leading CISOs & InfoSec leaders for peer-to-peer sharing via five short questions and insights.

Gil Polak has been with the Bank of Israel since 1999. He started working there over 22 years ago as a system and communication manager and transitioned into cybersecurity roles about 17 years ago. Polak practically built his role as CISO from the ground up over his years at the bank.

What is the biggest challenge security leaders face today and how are you looking to tackle it?

The main challenge is doing what you see as most critical to improving your security posture daily while handling all the usual corporate needs and concerns.

In your view, how important are security awareness programs, and what’s a CISO main role in making them effective?

In my opinion, 3 main benefits arise from awareness programs:

  1. Better employee resilience against cyber attacks
  2. The whole interaction opens a dialogue across all levels of the organization
  3. Many positive by-products from employees: needs, exposures, breach reporting etc.

What’s the one thing you’ll never tell an employee who’s made a security error, and how would you suggest to handle the situation instead?

I would never shame an employee nor say that he or she is ‘an amateur.’ Instead, I would “recruit” them to help spread the word about the importance of cybersecurity, refer them to relevant cybersecurity training materials, and loop-in a delegate from their department for extra support as needed. 

When it comes to recruitment – what approach do you take to attract and keep the best talent, and what would be your best tip for a new CISO?

When recruiting talent, I look for ability, enthusiasm and commitment. My tips for a new CISO: be autonomous as much as possible, but also know when to collaborate and interact with others to get them onboard.

Finally (just for fun): if you could have dinner with any renowned figure (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

I would choose to have dinner with Hitler in 1932. I would invite him for dinner and then poison him.


Bank of Israel is the central bank of Israel, headquartered in Jerusalem. The primary object of the Bank of Israel is to maintain price stability and the stability of the financial system in Israel and has the exclusive right to issue Israeli Shekel banknotes and coins.

mairtain price stability