Natanz nuclear facility_311 reuters.
(photo credit: STR New / Reuters)
Tehran has embarked on an ambitious plan to boost its offensive and defensive
cyber-warfare capabilities and is investing $1 billion in developing new
technology and hiring new computer experts.
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Iran has been the victim of a
number of cyber attacks in recent years, some attributed to Israel. The most
famous attack was by a virus called Stuxnet which is believed, at its prime, to
have destroyed 1,000 centrifuges at the Natanz fuel enrichment facility by
sabotaging their motors.
Iran recently confirmed that a new virus called
had been detected in its computer systems, although the extent of the
damage is unknown. While Stuxnet was aimed at crippling industrial control
systems and may have destroyed some of the centrifuges Iran uses to enrich
uranium, experts say Duqu appeared designed to gather data to make it easier to
launch future cyber attacks.
Last week, the Spanish-language TV network
Univision aired a documentary which included secret footage of Iranian and
Venezuelan diplomats being briefed on planned cyber attacks against the United
States. The documentary claimed that the diplomats, based in Mexico, were
involved in planning cyber attacks against US targets, including nuclear power
Fearing cyber attacks, the Israeli government recently
established a cyber task force that will be responsible for improving Israeli
defenses and coordinating the development of new software and capabilities
between local defense and hi-tech companies.
The IDF has also drafted a
multi-year plan that is supposed to lead to a major boost in military
capabilities over the coming five years.
“We are not where we want to be
when it comes to our defenses,” a senior Israeli official said
The IDF recently organized the units that deal with
cyber-warfare, establishing offensive capabilities and operations within
Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200 and defensive operations within a new division
within the C4I Directorate.
The new division within the C4I Directorate
is run by a colonel who took up his post over the summer. The officer is
former commander of Matzov, the unit that is responsible for protecting
the IDF networks and a Hebrew acronym for “Center for Encryption
and Information Security.”
Matzov writes the codes that encrypt IDF, Shin
Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad networks, as well as mainframes in
national corporations, such as the Israel Electrical Corp., Mekorot, the
national water company, and Bezeq.
Chairman of the Israel Electric
Corporation Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yiftach Ron- Tal recently warned that Israel was
not adequately prepared to defend and confront the threat it faces to its
military and civilian infrastructure.
“Israel is under a threat and we
could already have experienced a silent infiltration that will be activated when
the enemy wants,” Ron-Tal said. “We need to be prepared for the possibility that
critical infrastructure will be paralyzed.”