There has been a marked increase of cyber attacks on Israel from Iran over the last few months, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the annual international cyber security conference at Tel Aviv University.

Netanyahu said those attacks were being carried out both directly by Iran, and also through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. He said that not only did the attacks target Israel’s strategic infrastructure, but also key economic and civilian targets as well.

Netanyahu called for a “digital Iron Dome” to be set up to thwart the cyber attacks which he said would increase not only in quantity, but also in quality. The prime minister said this issue was discussed at length with US President Barack Obama during his visit in March.

“Today cyber is part of the battlefield,” Netanyahu said. “This is not tomorrow’s warfare, it is already here today.”

Netanyahu characterized Israel as a “rising star” in the area of cyber security, and said there were two clear signs of that: the first was that one rarely hears of successful cyber attacks against Israel; and the second was the conference, which attracted representatives from around the world who came both to learn from Israel’s experience and to explore opportunities for cooperation.

Eviatar Matania, head of the National Cyber Bureau, said that as the cyber challenges increase, the world’s leading companies in this area – including GE and Oracle – are setting up research and development centers in Israel.

Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett announced a new project that would help soldiers who worked in the cyber field during their army service integrate into this field in civilian life as well. He declared that the goal was to turn Israel into the “capital of the cyber world.” Bennett said in recent months the Economy and Trade Ministry has approved 50 percent of projects in the cyber field requesting government funds, at a sum of some NIS 16 million.

The conference is sponsored by Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, and the National Cyber Bureau.

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