Israel and Iran, expense, capabilities and cyber strategies

Pierluigi Paganini May 31, 2012

In recent days the discovery of Flame malware  has captured the attention of the media, the internet is monopolized by related news, many experts have identified Israel as the author of the technological miracle, a perfect tool for cyber espionage that could suddenly mutate in an offensive cyber threat. It’s clear that Iran share same conviction, the government of Teheran beliefs that behind the last wave of attacks there are the Western enemies and Israel, of course these countries known to be possible targets of  attacks and retaliation, and the cyber space is most probable scenarios.

Government of Israel is massive investing on cyber security demonstrating a great attention to incoming cyber threats, it has announced that it will expend more than $13 million in the coming years to develop new technologies for cyber defence.

Networks, critical infrastructures, military environments and private companies must be protected from foreign cyber attacks.

Israeli networks are daily goal of thousands of cyber attacks conducted by hostile governments, hacktivist and independent hackers who want to compete with one of the most advanced nations, for obvious reasons are reported only in presence of substantial losses or sensational data breach.

The National Cyber Committee, a department under direct control of the Prime Minister’s Office, will coordinate with the Science and Technology Ministry the project during at least three years,  reserving each year $525,000 for advanced cyber security projects sponsored by corporations, and $80,000 to generation with scholarships.

The government of course has a great interest to improve security of its critical infrastructures, due this reason it will push the researchers to develop project that will cover there delicate areas such as banking, defence, government and smart grids in general.

The project will not cover only the development of cyber defence systems but it will support the researches on cyber-psychology, analyzing the user’s reaction to a cyber attacks and the capability to identify groups of hackers and terrorists cell anticipating  cyber operations against the national security.

National Cyber Committee is actual under retired general Yitzhak Ben Yisrael that during an interview expressed the importance to support private firms in the cyber security matter.

“This is not a government program to encourage people to install anti-virus software. That kind of thing is better done by the private sector. What we want to do is work with the private sector, to guide them on the kinds of products and services needed to ensure that our data remains safe.”

Really interesting the opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the committee that view in the project an opportunity of business, exporting developed technologies to member of alliances to extend their cyber security.

What is Iran’s position on cyber warfare? Why the government of Tehran invests so much in cyber security?

Giving a look at the comparative strengths of the Iranian and Israeli forces we will note an impressive discrepancy in capabilities and numbers of enlisted troops. Despite Iran population is ten times bigger than Israel’s, the situation of its military hardware is disastrous due to the decennial arms embargo.

Iran is also aware of the potential effects of a cyber attacks against its enemy, the critical infrastructures all over the world are still too vulnerable and the cyber warfare gives the opportunity to move covert offensive. Of course also foreign government are aware of this, that’s way the new battle field is become the cyber space, Stuxnet, Duqu and  Flame are the demonstration.

On December Tehran has announced an ambitious plan to improve its cyber-warfare capabilities investing $1 billion in developing new technologies and creating new team of cyber experts.

Fearing cyber attacks, the Israel Defence Forces has also drafted a multi-year plan to lead to a major boost in military capabilities over the coming five years involving Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200.

The Unit in collaboration with the C4I Corps, the national Teleprocessing Corps, are working to improve cyber capabilities.

A new division has been created within the C4I Directorate, it is run by former commander of Matzov with the intent to protect the IDF networks.

Are Israeli facilities safe? Is Israel able to reject any attack?

Chairman of the Israel Electric Corporation Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yiftach Ron- Tal declared that Israel was not adequately prepared to defend its infrastructure.

 “Israel is under a threat and we could already have experienced a silent infiltration that will be activated when the enemy wants,” “We need to be prepared for the possibility that critical infrastructure will be paralyzed.”

Let’s conclude with a statement pronounced by a senior Israeli official that synthetize the great effort of Israel in cyber security and their ambitions.

“We are not where we want to be when it comes to our defences,”

Pierluigi Paganini


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