Iran is actively trying to hack Israel's critical online systems, the head of the Shin Bet's new SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) unit told Yedioth Ahronoth in an exclusive interview.
The Israel Security Agency officials said that aside from the hundreds of thousands of low-grade cyber attacks by Islamist hackers, who try to breach Israel's cyber infrastructure on a daily basis, the past three years have seen a "single-digit number" of high-grade attacks.
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"High-grade attacks" are highly sophisticated cyber-assaults which usually indicate government-level involvement; and target critical infrastructure.
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When these attempted cyber attacks were detected, the Shin Bet's teams were called to immediately see to the targeted servers.
"The teams on the ground took the necessary action to locate the hackers, stop them from reaching the critical areas of the infrastructure and thwart the breach," an official with the cyber unit said.
Following the devastating cyber attack on Iran's cyber infrastructure, the Islamic Republic had formed a special, central authority to coordinate its cyber outline.
The new bureau's official mission statement is to protect Iranian critical infrastructure; but covertly it also operates a unit dedicated to cyber attacks.
Some three months ago, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta accused Tehran of launching a series of cyber attack against US-based banks.
The assault prompted a broad legislative move by Israel to have the Shin Bet's cyber unit protect the country's critical online grids.
"We assume that our adversary is smarter than us," Izzy, of Israel's National Information Security Authority, said. "The Iranians were the ones to invent chess, some 5,000 years ago. They cannot be dismissed."
The new cyber unit is responsible for protecting all of Israel's national cyber infrastructure systems. It employs a group of talented young hackers, whose mission is to try and breach demo-grids akin to those used by banks, Israel Electric Corp, the Water Authority and so on.
The new division also houses a cyber-intelligence unit.
According to one of its members – a graduate of the Israeli Technological Institute who chose serving her country as part of the Shin Bet over the temptations of the private sector – "What we do allows you to see an immediate impact and how we save people's lives.
"Wars can be waged from your keyboard," she added. "When I hit 'Enter' it's just as effective as a bullet."
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