IDF honors troops for successful operation after Iran cyberattack

While the military didn't specify which attack, the head of military intelligence said the "mission was a first and significant step on a long path."

A month after cyberattack targeting Iran, IDF troops honored for successful, covert operation (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
A month after cyberattack targeting Iran, IDF troops honored for successful, covert operation
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
A month after a cyberattack against Iran’s Shahid Rajee port following an attack against Israel’s water system, troops from the IDF’s elite 8200 Intelligence Unit as well as others were awarded certificates of appreciation by the head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hayman.
The awards were given to troops in Unit 8200, Military Intelligence’s Research Division and the IDF’s Operations Division, whose work and cooperation “resulted in a unique and impressive operational achievement,” the military said in a statement.
The troops, Hayman said, do not only think outside the box but are “outstanding in their essential need, outstanding in their hunger for success, outstanding in their lack of compromise on the small details.”
The operational activities “demonstrated creativity and a strong desire to succeed. It is impossible to take advantage of the unique capabilities, collaboration and achievements that were reflected in your actions. This mission was a first and significant step on a long path,” he added.
Israel was accused of launching a major cyberattack on Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port, near the coastal city of Bandar Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz, causing chaos for days when the facility’s computer system crashed after being suddenly hit by hackers on May 9.
According to intelligence and cybersecurity officials quoted by The Washington Post, Israel was behind the attack "presumably in retaliation for an earlier attempt to penetrate computers that operate rural water distribution systems in Israel."
A month earlier, Israeli water installations were hit by a cyberattack that aimed to raise chlorine to dangerous levels. There was also a chance that the attack could have triggered a fail-safe system which would have shut down pumps and leave thousands without water during a heatwave that hit the country.
Yigal Unna, the director-general of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, later acknowledged the “synchronized and organized attack.”
While he didn’t mention Iran by name, speaking at Cybertech Live Asia, Unna said that the attack was the first of its kind in history and that such attacks will only become more sophisticated and deadlier.
“If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot we would now be facing, in the middle of the corona crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that,” he said. "Cyber winter is coming, and coming even faster than I suspected.”
Regarded as Israel’s equivalent of the NSA in the United States, the soldiers of one of the IDF’s most coveted units, Unit 8200, intercept and collect digital communication and intelligence on Israel’s enemies.
Spread across the country, these online soldiers are on the front line of Israel’s cyberwars 24/7, 365 days a year to identify possible threats and effectively neutralize them.
While the military statement did not specifically name the attack against Iran’s port as the operation the troops were awarded certificates for, a senior officer in the unit said in a recent interview that “about half of Unit 8200 is engaged in operational activity beyond Israel’s borders."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of conducting daily cyberattacks on the country and that “everything today is vulnerable and under attack.”
Speaking at a cybersecurity conference last year, Netanyahu said that “Iran attacks Israel on a daily basis. We monitor these attacks, we see these attacks, and we thwart these attacks – all the time. We’re not oblivious to these threats, they don’t impress us – because we know what our power is, both in defense and in the offense.”