The director of the US National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, reportedly paid a secret visit to Israel last week to discuss cooperation in cyber-defense, in particular to counter attacks by Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy Hezbollah.
Haaretz newspaper quoted a senior Israeli official as saying that the NSA chief, who also heads the US’s Cyber Command, made the trip to meet with the commanders of the IDF’s famed 8200 intelligence unit, which specializes in signal intelligence (SIGINT) and code decryption. Rogers also met with other senior Israeli intelligence officials, Haaretz said late Sunday, but not IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot or Military Intelligence director Herzl Halevi.
Over the last two years, Israel has been targeted by a number of cyber-attacks. Officials say hackers affiliated with the Iranian government and Hezbollah, a Shiite terror group long at war with Israel, were behind some of the infiltration attempts.
Earlier this week, Israel said it has charged a Palestinian hacker from Gaza with breaking into the feeds from IAF drones and collecting information on troop movements and civilian flights for Islamic Jihad, a terror group that also has ties to Iran.
In June 2015, the Israeli ClearSky cyber-security company said it had discovered an ongoing wave of cyber-attacks originating from Iran on targets in Israel and the Middle East, with Israeli generals among the targets. The goal is “espionage or other nation-state interests,” the firm said.
The hackers use techniques such as targeted phishing — in which hackers gather user identification data using false web pages that look like real and reputable ones — to hack into 40 targets in Israel and 500 worldwide, said ClearSky. In Israel the targets have included retired generals, employees of security consulting firms and researchers in academia.
The US has also seen “intensified cyberspace operations by state and nonstate actors,” Admiral Rogers told the US House of Representatives panel earlier this month, according to a Department of Defense report.