The IDF Operations Department has put together instructions for military operations in cyberspace against enemies of the Jewish state.
According to a document released by the department, the IDF will engage in consistent and continuous intelligence gathering operations online, and said it will handle cyberspace as a battlefield as important as those at sea in the air, and on the ground, executing attacks when necessary.
Among the goals of Israel’s cyber warfare program are thwarting and disrupting enemy projects limiting the operational freedom of the state and the IDF, reducing the capabilities of Israel’s enemies online and on the ground, conducting public diplomacy, advocating for Israel, and assisting in IDF military operations in combat.
In January, the Israeli Defense Ministry established a special cyber warfare administration, to conduct cyber warfare in a coordinated effort between the IDF and Israeli security agencies.
January saw a significant increase in cyber attacks on Israeli interests. Hackers broke into the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website, threatening a war between Israel and Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, writing “Death to Israel”, and posting a picture of an armed Palestinian Authority man. They also broke into the website of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon .
In an attack causing grief throughout Israel, a group of Saudi hackers published the credit card information of many thousands of Israelis, urging haters of Israel and other hackers to use the credit card information to make purchases online. Israeli banks froze the accounts of those who were hacked, and compensated owners of cards which were used to make illegal purchases.
According to senior security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Isaac Ben-Israel, the state of Israel suffers 1,000 cyber-attacks every day. Ben-Israel said the increased number of attacks have led Israel to pass laws requiring that major Israeli infrastructures institute measures to protect themselves from cyber terrorism.
Israel’s involvement in cyberwarfare has not been limited to its victimization, however.
In June 2010, Israel gained international admiration for its alleged involvement in the Stuxnet virus which caused severe damage to the Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems utilized by Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure.
In September 2007, Israel carried airstrikes on Syria dubbed Operation Orchard. Sources in US industry and military speculated that Israeli cyberwarfare had allowed Israel to pass under Syrian radar undetected.
About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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