‘We know who is attacking us and we know how to get even’: Israel’s cyber security chief

‘Anywhere we needed to, we’ll use our cyber army’, Adam Szubin reveals in interview – but gives no evidence that Russia is behind recent attacks

‘We know who is attacking us and we know how to get even’: Israel’s cyber defense chief

We know who is attacking us and we know how to get even, says Israel’s cyber defense chief

Israel’s chief cyber security official is defying growing calls from the US and elsewhere for it to be more proactive in protecting critical infrastructure.

Cyber security hasn’t been the focus of attention at recent conferences in Israel, and Israel’s expertise in protecting electronic systems and data in transport, logistics and utilities has been used to defend the country from hacking attacks from potential adversaries.

That has left many at home and abroad to suspect that Israeli authorities – who deny interference in the election process in the US or Russia and have repeatedly denied claims of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure – are trying to keep one eye on overseas targets.

Adam Szubin, the acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury department, has described internet safety as one of his top priorities, and Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has encouraged Israel to join a pilot program being launched to test if “cyber fortifications” could protect infrastructure.

But in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s chief cyber defense official, Asaf Romirowsky, said that while cyber security wasn’t a priority in Israel, the country would use it to thwart attacks against critical infrastructure.

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“In any case, we know who is attacking us and we know how to get even,” he said.

As Israel is so close to its Arab neighbors, it has also faced cyber attacks from Iran, even as Tehran has denied involvement in broader campaigns to destabilize countries and infuriate Israel. The US has repeatedly accused Iran of involvement in hacking campaigns against American institutions and those of other countries.

Israel is also directly involved in US and Israeli cyber security, as the American-Israeli Cyber Institute, based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is among the biggest in the world.

This Cyber Institute is a joint venture between the US’s Department of Homeland Security and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and reported that there were no successful cyberattacks from outside the state in 2016.

The IDF has also been known to launch joint operations with NATO and the US on military networks to detect and stop possible infiltration by states or terrorist groups. The head of the NATO military operations centre is set to visit Israel soon to enhance the relationship and share information.

This is also happening as a result of US cyber security experts providing top intelligence tips for Israeli and US soldiers and passing on Israeli expertise on how to block state attempts to sabotage and eavesdrop on communications at land, sea and air.

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