Syrian hackers are working for President Bashar Assad's regime, criminal elements worldwide are trying to down banks' websites, and Israel has also recently experienced an unprecedented cyber attack as retaliation for the IDF's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. The IDF's Computer Services Directorate responded to the rise in the number of cyber attacks in Israel by setting up a special cyber war room meant to protect its computer systems by detecting virtual attacks by hostile elements and launching a counter attack.
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The initiative makes the IDF one of the only militaries in the world to operate such a war room. "We definitely feel a significant increase in the number of attempts to challenge our systems," an army source said. According to him, the threat ranges from lone hackers "to the recruitment of an army of hackers and the planting of malicious computer programs, which are activated when the order is given in order to shut down the systems.
'Enemies not stupid.' New war room (Photo courtesy of IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
"This is what happened this year to banks in the US and in Estonia in 2007 (the country's economy was shut down for three weeks, apparently due to a cyber attack by Russian criminal elements). Our enemies are not stupid, and they are determined to act in places where they can gain significant achievements," the army official said.
The defense source admitted that alongside some successes, such as the thwarting of an attempt to down the IDF Spokesperson's Unit during the raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship, the IDF's Cyber Defense Division has also seen some disappointments, such as the rise in the number of cyber attacks on military systems during Operation Pillar of Defense.
The new war room will be manned 24 hours a day by some 20 soldiers who graduated from the IDF's Cyber Shield course. The war room will allow the IDF to monitor and respond to any hacking attempt at all levels – from tank computers to the IDF chief of staff's personal computer.