In a move that comes amid major concerns over the ever-growing threat to Israel’s civilian and military networks by Iran, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is assembling elite teams of computer hackers to spearhead the nation’s cyber-warfare efforts.
According to the Jerusalem Post, last month the army has recruited around 300 young computer prodigies to serve as soldiers in its Military Intelligence and C4I Directorate branches -- both of which are charged with cyber-warfare. C4I stands for "Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and (military) Intelligence."
The new division is run by a colonel and former commander of Matzov (the “Center for Encryption and Information Security”). Matzov writes the code that encrypt IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad networks, as well as major electric, telephone and water infrastructure mainframes.
Last month, The Jerusalem Post reported on an ambitious Iranian plan to invest $1 billion to develop technology and hire computer experts with the goal of boosting the Islamic Republic’s offensive and defensive cyber-warfare capabilities.
Israel is also concerned about terrorist cyber attacks, demonstrated by the release of thousands of Israeli credit card numbers by a Saudi hacker this past week.
“We are not where we would like to be when it comes to the cyber world and we are working to improve our capabilities,” the senior officer said.
One of the IDF’s main concerns is the possibility that an enemy will infiltrate and topple military networks during a war. JPost reports that the IDF have invested heavily in digitizing its ground forces, enabling them to share tactical information about the location of both friendly and hostile units.
And the threat is real, as a group dubbed the "Gaza Hacker Team" launched a cyber-attack on the Israel Fire and Rescue Services' website Friday morning. It is the latest in a series of cyber-terror attacks against Israel.
According to JPost, the same group hacked into Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's website just last week. In Friday's attack the hackers crossed out picture of Ayalon and superimposed footprints over his face.
The hackers threatened to commandeer additional Israeli websites and wrote "death to Israel" in Hebrew.