Cyber hackers [illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
States are increasingly setting up cyber-attack options targeting their enemies’ critical systems, a senior cybersecurity expert warned in recent days.
Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni, who directs the cybersecurity program at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told The Jerusalem Post this week that states are preparing “red button” options that can be pushed in the event of a full-scale cyber attack.
Siboni is one of the organizers of a US-Israeli cybersecurity conference, to be held in Washington in April, that will gather leaders in the field and look at the latest technologies and intelligence relating to cyber defenses.
He described a cyber arms race in which states build up offensive and defensive capabilities, with rivals continuously carrying out changes to evade potential attacks. “The red button allows a state, on the day an order is given, to inflict heavy damages,” Siboni said.
Cyber attacks can leave Internet and communications grids paralyzed and harm physical sites and control systems that manage critical infrastructure, such as electricity, water, and transport, Siboni warned.
“There are many possible targets for the attacker. Governments must help the private sector, like financial and petrochemical sectors, to defend themselves, he added.
During the conference – to be held on April 27-28 and organized by the INSS and the DC-based Cyber Security Forum Initiative – current and former Israeli and American government officials from the CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and Israeli government and security agencies will speak. Representatives from national infrastructure bodies, banks and major corporations as well as top executives from the cybersecurity industry will also attend.
“Israeli industry is coming to show its technology,” Siboni said. “Israeli companies and American companies are real business partners,” he added.
“This area is growing in importance. Everyone who deals in defense, national security, corporate, or financial sites and critical infrastructure wants to defend themselves. Targets have become highly accessible,” Siboni said. “This is happening everywhere in the world, including Israel.”