IDF ‘cyber commanders’ emerge as digital dangers grow

Graduates of course to join all branches of the military – air force, navy, ground forces, and general staff – to put dynamic training to use.

IDF officer on phone, computers 370 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman’s Office)
IDF officer on phone, computers 370
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman’s Office)

A new IDF Cyber Commanders course began earlier this week as a means to protect Israel from the dangers of sophisticated and debilitating cyber attacks, Maj. Gil (full name withheld) told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Gil, the head of the cyber division at IDF’s School for Computer Professions, said that the cyber sphere “is far more than the Internet. It includes physical infrastructure, information systems, and the human layer. The Internet is just one part. Weapons systems and satellites are included in this arena.”
“In this field, you don’t look the enemy in the eye. An attack can come from one end of the world to the other, very quickly,” he said.
He explained that The School for Computer Professions, itself a part of the military’s Center of Computing and Information Systems, is running two programs to train IDF soldiers to defend against cyber attackers.
The other program, which began in 2012, is called Cyber Defenders, and it is the basic course that qualifies soldiers in putting up and maintaining cyber defenses.
Graduates of this course go on to join all branches of the military – the air force, navy, ground forces, and general staff – each of which have their own cyber section where they can put their training to use.
In February, an enhanced Cyber Defenders training program will kick off – and replace the current one – called Cyber Defenders 2.
“We’re advancing in our understanding and operational activity,” said Gil. “We must qualify people especially for this arena."
“We’re looking less for people with experience with computers, as they will be taught this on the course, and more for people with certain qualities, who pass a stringent selection process,” he said.
Those qualities include creativity, out of the box thinking and the ability to instantly recognize when something out of the ordinary is taking place.
Cyber Defenders 2 is a reflection of the new challenges posed by skilled attackers, Gil said.
Cyber Commanders is a more advanced course for officers of higher ranks. “Here, we’re looking for people who can understand the complexities of this arena. We need a different dialogue, and an updated vision of the role,” Gil explained.
The officers who pass this course already have experience in operational cyber defenses, and will become “cyber commanders” when they complete it, he said.
Both courses will include an emphasis on the intelligence perspective on the cyber realm.