Ironic Twist: Israel Starts Cyber Defense Unit

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 @ 05:08 PM gHale

In what may seem like a bit of irony, Israel’s military set up a cyber defense division, boosting the country’s cyber war capabilities so it can respond to threats from Iran.

The ironic part is security experts say Israel possibly worked with the United States to attack Tehran’s nuclear program in 2010 by launching the sophisticated Stuxnet worm.

An army colonel who formerly commanded Matzov, the Hebrew acronym for the Center for Encryption and Information Security, will run the new unit in the C4I Directorate, which stand for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, the Jerusalem Post reported.

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That is the unit that protected military networks and strategic state concerns such as water and electricity from cyber attack.

The addition of the cyber defense division followed the news by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in July of the creation of a National Cybernetic Task Force, believed to comprise at least 80 people, to defend Israel’s vital infrastructure from Internet-based strikes.

The division will work closely with Israel’s expanding high-tech sector, one of the most advanced in the world, and its defense industry to develop systems to shield the economy and government from cyber attacks.

Security experts across the globe said Israel has become the leading practitioner of cyberwarfare.

This stems from the use of the highly sophisticated Stuxnet computer virus against Iran, a strike experts theorize came from Israel and the United States. The attack hit Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, 160 miles south of Tehran, in June 2010.

The virus reportedly attacked highly secure computers and manipulated the arrays of centrifuges, which do the enriching, to self-destruct.

It was a hit Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel and the United States say is to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran denies that.

Iran has made a major effort to develop a cyber attack capability to retaliate for the extensive damage reportedly caused at Natanz, which apparently set back the nuclear program by several months.

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