Officials: IDF networks safe from cyber attacks

Ya’alon says Israeli technology opens up possibilities – fueling speculation about creator of latest virus to infect Iran.

Cyber defense war room 370 (photo credit: Reuters and Marc Israel Sellem)
Cyber defense war room 370
(photo credit: Reuters and Marc Israel Sellem)
Senior defense officials expressed confidence that Israel’s military networks were secure and protected from cyber attacks, as Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted on Tuesday that Israel might have been behind the latest computer virus to attack Iran.
Ya’alon fueled speculation of Israeli involvement in the cyber attack when he told Army Radio on Tuesday that “whoever sees the Iranian threat as a serious threat would be likely to take different steps, including these, in order to hurt them.”
Ya’alon went a step further and discussed Israel’s technological capabilities.
“Israel is blessed to be a nation possessing superior technology. These achievements of ours open up all kinds of possibilities for us,” he said.
Evidence suggests that the virus, dubbed “Flame,” may have been developed on behalf of the same nation or nations that commissioned the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program in 2010, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Russian cyber security software group that took credit for discovering the viruses.
Israel has been widely accused of developing Stuxnet, possibly together with the US.
Military Intelligence’s Unit 8200 is responsible within Israel for offensive cyber attacks and the Mossad is also presumed to have some independent capabilities of its own.
While Israel is one of the prime suspects with regard to Flame, other countries would also have an interest in such technology, which officials admitted was an advanced “espionage tool.”
Flame effectively turns every computer it infects into the ultimate spy. It can turn on microphones to record conversations taking place near computers, take screenshots, log instant messaging chats, gather data files and remotely change settings on computers.
Later on Tuesday Ya’alon backtracked and issued a statement saying that “plenty of advanced Western countries with apparent cyber-warfare capabilities view Iran and especially its nuclear program as a real threat.” He added that Israel was making significant investments in preventing cyber attacks.
A top defense official involved in shielding military networks from attacks told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that while there was no such thing as a hermetic defense, Israel had created effective systems to prevent cyber attacks.
“Our defenses are good and are far more advanced than those that exist in the civilian world,” the official said. “All of our systems are hardened and protected with encryption and various other layers.”
Last year the IDF established a Cyber Defense Division in the C4I Directorate, which is responsible for protecting army networks from hackers and infiltrators.
Due to the presumed increase in the cyber threat to Israel – a few months ago, the Post reported on an ambitious Iranian plan to invest $1 billion on cyber warfare – the IDF recently approved a multi-year program to beef up cyber defenses, including the expansion of personnel as well as new technological capabilities.
Reuters contributed to this report.