Israel Electric Corporation inaugurates ‘Cyber Gym’ to protect network-dependent infrastructure

Group says they are using expert internet hackers to help train "cyber warriors."

By
October 31, 2013 19:21
2 minute read.
Chairman of the IEC’s Directorate, Ret. Major General Yiftah Ron-Tal with Hackers.

Chairman of the IEC’s Directorate, Ret. Major General 370. (photo credit: Yossi weiss, IEC Spokesman unit)

The Israel Electric Corporation has decided to use the country’s most expert Internet hackers to the advantage of its citizens.

The company on Wednesday night inaugurated its “Cyber Gym,” a training area near Hadera for “cyber warriors” to teach and learn about cyber protection against unwanted intrusions into infrastructure and energy systems.

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Aiming to safeguard national and strategic corporations operating in Israel and abroad, the gym will train its warriors to respond in real-time to attacks against sensitive infrastructures such as airports, roads, power plants, water facilities and trains, IEC said.

“[Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah and Grad missiles – out, cyber – in,” IEC chairman Maj.- Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal said.

“The State of Israel and [its] electricity sector face a time of growing threats to communication infrastructures. There are hundreds of attempts to intrude IEC’s systems every day. It is a nationallevel threat.”

The Cyber Gym is divided into three zones, with each receiving a color to mark the participating teams – red in the offensive area for the hackers, blue in the defensive area and white in the control or crisis management zone. Within each zone, participants can practice managing scenarios that simulate real-life attacks, and some of the nation’s best hackers have been recruited to take part.

IEC senior executive vice president Yasha Hain led the project’s commercial initiation.

“Looking to be leaders in technology and fulfilling our national responsibility, we gathered a staff to locate and monitor intrusions to the communication systems,” Ron-Tal explained. “We also established this revolutionary facility for practicing cyber protection – the hardest security challenge ever.”

The national electricity network faces up to 6,000 network events per second, and each case must be examined using advanced analytical tools, on what Ron-Tal described as “the most significant present and future battlefield.”

Institutions depend today on stability, security and an invulnerable cyber environment, necessitating a deep “understanding of the attacker’s mind” – a challenge that IEC stressed the Cyber Gym aims to tackle. Intrusions on computer systems and networks can significantly damage organizations, including the exposure of secret and sensitive information, disruptions to operational processes, and public health issues, the company warned.

During the trial runs at the Cyber Gym, representatives of organizations around the world visited the site and pledged to participate in the program over the next two months, IEC said.

Not only can the Cyber Gym provide a security training tool for Israeli and foreign corporations and public institutions, it “has the potential to create profit for the corporation” in “such a competitive era,” explained Eli Glickman, CEO of IEC. The IEC has experienced severe financial troubles, with debt totaling some NIS 70 billion.

National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom meanwhile committed to establishing a “cyber staff” to coordinate relevant operations occurring among all the major organizations administered by his office.

“As the states of the world face organized attacks by hackers against national infrastructures, including the electricity systems, Israel is determined to prevent any damage to its strategic foundations,” Shalom said. “The establishment of this cyber arena is one of the measures taken against the attacks.”


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