Long a target for cyber warfare, Israel has announced the establishment of a National Cyber-Defense Authority under the leadership of Dr. Eviatar Matanya.
The role of the new authority, announced at Sunday’s cabinet meeting by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be to protect civilians from cyber attacks.
“I made a decision to develop a national authority to regulate the issue of cyber protection for all of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu stated. “This means not only the increased protection of important institutes and defense agencies, but also of Israeli citizens.
“This new authority is an ‘Air Force’ against new threats which will not solely rely on existing defense teams,” he continued. “We are in a new world, we are organizing new forces, [and] it [has] great significance for Israel’s defense in the future.”
The IDF already has a cyber-defense division, which was drafted to act in response to a cyber-attack during Operation Protective Edge. The Iranian-led attack attempted to disrupt civilian communications, but was thwarted. The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) also has its own cyber-defense unit.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Israel has been the “target of electronic attack by an enemy state, by terrorist groups and by hackers targeting military and economic sites, but these attacks have caused no serious damage.”
Matanya is expected to build a team of experts in the field under Cabinet supervision in the next sixty days. Their job will be to coordinate and lead the entire Israeli cyber-defense team.
According to many cyber-defense experts, Israel is the target of almost daily attacks, specifically denial of service (DDOS), in which hackers attempt to bring down a website by flooding it with messages. Israeli cyber officials have become so effective at blocking the incoming attacks that most are never even realized by the public.
At the recent Cyber Challenge event, sponsored by cyber-defense firm Symantec, Israeli cyber teams were called “scary” talented by Antonio Forzieri, the EMEA Cyber Security head for Symantec.
“I’ve seen hackers at work all over Europe and the US, and Israeli hackers are younger, faster, and smarter than those in almost any other country,” he said. “To me, that combination of intelligence, youth, and ability is scary. We had better make sure they use their powers for good.”