With cyberattacks increasing in frequency and potency in recent years, the IDF has begun scouring Jewish communities abroad for young computer prodigies willing to join its ranks, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.
Over the past year, the army has dramatically increased the resources allotted for its cyber program, which operates within the Intelligence Corps' Unit 8200. Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has recently allocated NIS 2 billion (roughly $515 million) towards developing the program.
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Furthermore, the Teleprocessing Corps last year founded a new unit charged with protecting the IDF's communication systems from hackers and viruses. Israel blocks dozens of such attacks on a daily basis.
Israel is considered a leader in the cyber field, with foreign reports attributing the viruses that have hit Iran's nuclear facilities to the Jewish state.
Shortage in cyber troops
Meanwhile, the IDF's Manpower Directorate has recognized a looming shortage in "cybercombat troops."
To remedy the expected shortage, the Intelligence Corps is combing through Israeli high schools in hopes of recruiting teens with tech know-how who can also get top scores on the army's screening tests. But the IDF's elite units are vying for some of the same candidates, and the lure of becoming a pilot or a commando can prove greater than that of cyberwarfare.
And so the Manpower Directorate has decided to expand its search to the Diaspora.
"It has become clear that the demand for soldiers in this field is growing, which is why we're searching for solutions not only in Israel but abroad as well," a top officer in the directorate said Wednesday. "We're facing great challenges in the cyber field and we're struggling to recruit anyone who may qualify for the job.
"Our first order of business is to search Jewish communities abroad for teens who could qualify," he added. "Our representatives will then travel to the communities and begin the screening process there."
Teens who meet the high standards will be invited to make aliya and become cybercombat troops.
"This is a Zionist and patriotic project," the officer said. "We hope that once the teens make aliya ... their families will follow."
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