Israeli PM unveils new "Cyber-Command"

11:10, May 19, 2011      

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday announced the establishment of what he termed a "Cyber-Command," aimed at thwarting digital attacks against Israeli infrastructure, military assets, banks, government websites and related networked systems.

While the Mossad, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), military and other entities have their own departments dealing with online warfare, Netanyahu averred in an open interview with YouTube viewers in March that Israel was preparing a government senior- level response to such attacks.

"In the defense sphere, the State of Israel is exposed to cyber- attacks, including on electricity, water, transport, and communications systems, credit cards and any other computerized field. There is a need to develop a defensive response to this threat," Netanyahu said.

"The main responsibility of the task force will be to expand the state's ability to defend vital infrastructure networks against cybernetic terrorist attacks perpetrated by foreign countries and terrorist elements," a statement from the Prime Minister's Office read.

Netanyahu said a five-year plan, funded from a special budget, would boost cybernetics R&D, studies and infrastructure.

In 2008, hackers were able to shut down the website of the Bank of Israel, and last June, after the Turkish flotilla, hacker attacks on many Israeli internet sites, including the Tel Aviv Municipality, were recognized and repelled, according to the statement.

Leading the digital charge is Maj.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Israel, who headed up the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure.

Late last year, Ben-Israel and senior Israeli and international security experts gathered at an Israeli think tank to share know- how about battling cyber-crime, cyber-terrorism and cyber-warfare. Talks at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Herzliya-based Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) focused on efforts to slay, or at least rein in the multi-headed digital hydra.

In an address at the conference, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, who directs the National Security Council's Counter- Terrorism Bureau, asked his colleagues "how far do we have to go to protect critical infrastructure?" alluding to a top-down implementation of government responsibility and protocols in protecting the homefront in wartime.

"When we talk about defense against cyber-warfare, it gets tricky because it's never just military," said Iftach Ian Amit, a former Director of Security Research for online industry leaders like Aladdin and Finjan. It's also about heavily-bankrolled, international cyber-crime, Amit said, explaining, "These guys work like a business."

"Just as the events of Sept. 11 caught us by surprise, so could a major cyber assault," warned former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Ya'akov Perry, at the conference.

Source: Xinhua
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