The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) put a somewhat humorous spin on a very serious training exercise this week, asking members of the Air Force cyber unit “Ofek” to disrupt and sabotage fictitious invading alien spacecraft.
The Jerusalem Post reports on the exercise, noting that it was part of increased efforts to train Israeli forces to handle and counter a growing number of cyber threats, but tailored to be more culturally relevant and interesting to a younger generation of soldiers.
“The goal was to make them understand the importance developing [cyber] defense. We adapted the exercise to Generation Y, which loves challenges. So we prepared the framing story of an alien invasion,” the commanding officer explained to the newspaper.
The drill had various teams within Ofek competing with one another to simultaneously hack the “alien” systems while protecting the IDF’s data from snooping and sabotage.
The IDF has for many years already been heavily engaged in cyber-warfare and defense. Units like Ofek have played major roles in a number of conflicts, including last summer’s Gaza war.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet approved the establishment of a National Cyber Authority that will similarly coordinate efforts to defend Israel’s civilian networks and infrastructure from cyber attacks.