IAF Blue Flag Drill 370.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
The Israel Air Force has widened a probe into the use of cellphones by airmen containing classified information and convicted 14 pilots from a squadron with security breaches.
Investigators, led by the IAF’s Cyber Defense Unit, took the devices of several pilots and navigators for analysis, days after two pilots were sentenced to five days in military prison for improperly using their cellphones and using them to store sensitive data in violation of data security rules.
The probe began after one of the pilots lost his cellphone and reported it missing. An IAF data security officer recovered it, and discovered classified information on it, Army Radio reported.
The phones contained information pertaining to training and operational activities, as well as intelligence, the report said. The IDF refused to confirm the story.
It did confirm that the two pilots’ phones contained classified photographs and messages, and that checks of additional devices found prohibited content as well.
Twelve additional air force officers were tried and disciplinary measures were taken against them following the expanded investigation.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the air force took a grave view of the incident, adding that IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel held a meeting with senior officers at the rank of brigadier-general to discuss the issue.
The air force is ordering commanders to stress information security protocols.
Eshel said pilots must understand that there are alternative ways to store the information.
“You, the commanders of the air force, must speak about this with your people,” he told them. “Cultural changes take time,” and talks to clarify the rules are the main vehicle of achieving this change, he added.
The air force chief said he expected “total” changes to be implemented to prevent a recurrence of the security breaches.