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Israel orders telecoms to build ‘cyber Iron Dome’

Israeli communications firms were instructed to bolster cyber security this week, as the government rolled out a new initiative to guard the country against online attacks amid an uptick in cyber attacks.

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Fri, 06 May 2022
Israel orders telecoms to build ‘cyber Iron Dome’
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According to The Times of Israel, officials rolling out the program outlined that they were hoping to create a cyber defence umbrella as effective against hackers as the Iron Dome system is against missiles.

National Cyber Directorate head Gaby Portnoy, alongside Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, told a press conference that the joint venture will be designed to “take the country’s security capabilities to the next level and will provide a kind of an Iron Dome system for an additional layer of protection covering the entire country”.

Under the reform, Israels major communications companies will be required to implement detailed plans for identifying and preventing future cyber attacks targeting communication networks. The companies will need to adhere to unified standards, according to a statement announcing the program.


Communications firms will be required to develop monitoring mechanisms for providing a real-time picture of the cyber security efforts being taken, while ensuring privacy and the integrity of collected data. The companies will be required to purchase state-of-the-art technological capabilities for identifying, containing and recovering from potential cyber attacks.

The reform will also require the firms to implement five levels of information security, though their specifics have not been made public.

Hendel noted that the right management of defences is crucial for protecting the publics interests, referring to hacks that had targeted both vital infrastructure and sought to steal private data.

“There isn’t a vital infrastructure that’s not connected to a server that’s connected to the field of communications somehow.

“The latest attacks show that political actors and others identify communications infrastructure as a preferred target that leads to strategic targets, Hendel said.

While communications firms are at times the targets of attacks, they are also used as a gateway for hackers seeking to infiltrate and infect other strategic assets.

The State of Israel is targeted by thousands of cyber attacks every year, some of which are attempts to hit critical infrastructure, and we know of plans to carry out additional attacks, Hendel added.

According to Portnoy, the past month had seen a significant increase in the number of distributed denial-of-service attacks, where hackers overload a website with fake traffic to take it offline.

One such hack last week managed to shut down the use interface of Ben Gurion Airports website.

Last week, the National Cyber Directorate issued its annual warning against possible cyber attacks to mark Irans Quds Day and the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

According to the directorate, the day was marked by website breaches that spread anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian messaging, cyber attacks on companies that host and maintain a large number of websites to maximise the impact of the breach, as well as attempted hacks into organisations systems and information leaks in previous years.

In 2020, various affected websites displayed a video simulating Israeli cities being bombed and messages threatening the destruction of the Jewish state.

Two weeks ago, a group of pro-Iranian hackers claimed responsibility for a DDoS cyber attack that temporarily took down the Israel Airports Authority’s website. The breach coincided with the two-year anniversary of the assassination by the US of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated terrorist organisation.

The DDoS attack targeted dozens of other Israeli sites as well.

In recent years, numerous suspected Iranian cyber attacks on Israel were reported, including one that targeted its water infrastructure in 2020.

In March, a delegation from the US Department of Homeland Security visited Israel to sign commitments to expand cyber security cooperation between the two countries.

[Related: Chinese hackers target US, Europe and Asia corporations to uncover trade secrets]

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