'Israel's enemies boosting intel gathering efforts'

MI officer says adversaries using civilian technologies to target military communications systems.

IDF recruits at the Military Intelligence language school (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF recruits at the Military Intelligence language school
Efforts by Israel’s enemies to gather intelligence on the IDF have increased recently particularly by use of signal intelligence capabilities, a senior Military Intelligence officer warned on Monday.
The officer said that Israel’s adversaries were using technology available on the civilian market for intelligence- gathering purposes. The focus was on various military communication systems as well as cyber space.
“We are seeing an improvement by the other side in its ability to gather intelligence,” the officer said. “They can buy civilian equipment to gather intelligence and there is also the ability of a number of groups with varying capabilities to work against us.”
Due to the increase in the perceived threat, the IDF Information Security Unit embarked Monday on a new campaign aimed at raising awareness throughout the military and among reservists of the need to protect information obtained in the military.
“The potential for information to leak from the IDF is increasing and the challenge to safeguard a secret is greater,” the officer said, noting for example the use of social media sites by soldiers and reservists.
Access to the Internet, the officer said, posed a major challenge since it enabled soldiers to simply take information – even if not maliciously – and post it online. As an example, the officer referred to a recent case when a soldier posted on his Facebook page that his unit was planning an operation that night in a specific Palestinian village in the West Bank.
The IDF had to cancel the operation.
The officer said that the Information Security Unit, a part of Military Intelligence, frequently listened to conversations on military networks and tracked email correspondence with non-military elements to ensure that sensitive information does not leak.
He said that the unit recently appointed Information Security officers to units – mostly in the field – which did not traditionally have such an officer within its ranks. In other units, officers with existing jobs were trained to also be in charge of ensuring information security within their bases.
Despite the increased threat, the officer said that the IDF was expecting to move forward with plans to replace all of the civilian mobile phones in use by officers and career servicemen with smart phones. Distribution of the new phones will begin in the coming weeks.
He said that the military would be stricter in enforcing rules with regards to the use of the new phones and their exclusion from classified meetings. He also said that the Information Security Unit had developed the ability to block cellular coverage from certain areas if needed when classified discussions were taking place in the vicinity.