Israel beefs up cyber defenses

Friday, December 21, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israel's Shabak internal security agency, also known as Shin Bet, has opened a new cyber defense division to help in the escalating cyber war with Iran and other enemies of the state.

In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, an officer in this new division said that in addition to the thousands of low-level cyber attacks Israel fends off every day from individual hackers, there are also a regular number of attacks by foreign government agencies.

In particular, Shabak officials say Iran is working hard to score a major hit on critical Israeli computer systems. Shutting down the computers that control the national water carrier, the electrical grid, the transportation system or Israel's major banks could bring the nation to a catastrophic standstill.

To prevent that from happening, a Shabak team is constantly monitoring sensitive computer systems around the country, while field teams race to those servers that are targeted to defend against incoming attacks.

Israel is not taking the threat lightly.

"The Iranians invented the strategic game of chess 5,000 years ago. They are smart. We must not underestimate them," one official told the newspaper.

Yediot asked another cyber officer if he didn't sometimes get the urge to go out and defend Israel in a more physical sense.

His response:

"I'm already in the field. This war is being fought from the keyboard, and when I press 'Enter' it's no less effective than a soldier opening fire on the battlefield."

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