Israel’s National Cyber Committee is developing a “digital Iron Dome” system to protect Israel against daily cyber-attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday.
Israel has of late made fighting cyberterrorism a priority, creating the cyber task force and pouring resources into stopping Internet attacks from regional rivals and small-time hackers.
“Every day, many attempts are made to infiltrate Israel’s computer systems,” the prime minister warned. “Just as we have the Iron Dome against missiles and the security fence against infiltrators and terrorism, we will have a similar protection against cyber-attacks.”
However, the prime minister added that “as with the construction of the security fence, this will take time to complete.”
Reports surfaced earlier this year that Iran had tried to attack Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, though it was thwarted. In January, Saudi hackers published credit-card details of thousands of Israelis and brought down the websites of El Al and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indicated that Iran was stepping up cyber-attacks on regional rivals, including a Saudi oil facility.
“These attacks mark a significant escalation of the cyberthreat,” Panetta said. “And they have renewed concerns about still more destructive scenarios that could unfold.”
Iranian officials on Sunday denied any role in the cyberattacks against oil and gas companies in the Persian Gulf.
A report by the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Mahdi Akhavan Bahabadi, who is head of the National Center of Cyberspace, as saying that allegations of an Iranian link to the attacks on Saudi state oil company Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas were “politically motivated.”
Bahabadi said Iran is ready to cooperate in finding the source of the attacks. He said Iran has offered help to boost the companies’ cybersecurity, as Iran has itself recently been the victim of cyberattacks on offshore oil platforms.
Tehran has reportedly developed its own cyber-attack team in response to computer bugs, blamed on the US and Israel, that have been found affecting their nuclear program.
Netanyahu also praised the Israel Air Force for its weekend strikes on Gaza, which killed three terrorists. “The global jihad is intensifying its efforts to hurt us and we will continue to act against it… through responses and preemptive assassinations.”