Ex-CIA Director Petraeus: Everything can be hijacked, weaponized

Petraeus also highlighted the growing threat of Hezbollah and other non-state actors.

CIA Director David Petraeus speaks to members of a Senate (Select) Intelligence hearing on "World Wide Threats" on Capitol Hill in Washington in this January 31, 2012 file photo. (photo credit: REUTERS)
CIA Director David Petraeus speaks to members of a Senate (Select) Intelligence hearing on "World Wide Threats" on Capitol Hill in Washington in this January 31, 2012 file photo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The world has entered the age of “the weaponization of everything,” former CIA director and US General David Petraeus said on Tuesday at the INSS Conference in Tel Aviv.
Petraeus said that this age overlaps with the idea that “everything is in the Internet of things which is exploding in numbers and everything can be employed in some fashion with someone hijacking” it as an attack “bot or with a kinetic capability” – referring to attack robots and cyberattacks which have physical real-world attacks.
The former CIA director said that most countries are “struggling to keep up with technological developments with... robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, subs... and some of which are truly autonomous.”
He said that while Israel has dealt with powerful non-state actors for longer than most, only now is “the rest of the world coming to grips with non-state actors acting like” full-fledged states.
“Hezbollah is quite sophisticated with both its manned and unmanned forces,” he said, noting that non-state actors also have increasingly powerful “cyber forces and technology.”
Petraeus said there was also a growing trend in “state actors acting through non-state actors, such as the Ukrainian separatists clearly... directed by Russian forces.”
Moreover, having talked with the IDF’s leadership during his current trip to Israel, he complimented them on appearing to be ready to adapt to the various challenges.
Despite that positive review, IDF Brig.-Gen. Eran Shani, who was on the same panel addressing how the IDF can meet future challenges, said that the military was way behind in adjusting to data science and other social impacts from the cyber and technological revolution.
Shani said that the IDF’s interview and vetting process for recruits improperly underplay cyber and other individualistic and creative talents.
He predicted that in the future the IDF would toss its singular scoring paradigm for recruits and instead would give individual and more multifaceted scores to better place them and utilize talents that might currently be less valued.
Retired Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Sheffer said that even as the IDF continues to develop its capabilities, it must maximize the creative use of its current capabilities.
Sheffer said that “the IDF needs to give creative options to the political level in Iran and Syria. It needs to build the tools for this.” He explained that the IDF had weapons to accomplish its goals in those arenas, but that it had not fully thought creatively enough about applying its power there and that greater creativity could allow IDF actions even in areas where it has been afraid to act before.
The former major-general also took issue with views of others on the panel.
He contradicted MK and retired IDF Col. Omer Bar Lev about Iran’s nuclear deal. Sheffer said the deal will not stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and that Israel must figure out how to convey to Iran that obtaining nuclear weapons is not worth the cost.
Sheffer also took issue with Brig.-Gen. Meir Elran’s statement that the IDF had not done enough to defend the home front from rocket attacks. Rather, he said this is the responsibility of the civilian leadership.