Pavel explained the distinction as the difference between a hacker attack that takes the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality website off-line and an attack that shut downs the computers that control Tel Aviv’s traffic-light system. One shuts down a website but the other can paralyze a city and cause injuries and fatalities as well as significant financial loss.
Cohen, like Pavel, emphasized the need to distinguish between simple hacker attacks on websites and e-mail accounts and those aimed at bringing down computer systems that manage important infrastructure. Referring to the scope of the challenge facing military planners, Cohen noted that “we are living in a world where five hundred million cyber-attacks occur per second.”
While warfare is rapidly expanding onto new fronts, the consensus among experts at the Israeli Presidential Conference was that the rules of the game largely remain the same.
“The Internet area didn’t invent much,” Pavel told JNS.org. “These problems exist in the physical world.”