IDF Prepares for Cyber Warfare Attacks From Syria and Iran
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday were preparing for the possibility of a cyber-attack from sources close to, or even part of, the Syrian regime, including the Syrian Electronic Army, which claimed responsibility for hacking The New York Times website on Tuesday, Israel’s Walla News reported.
As the U.S. worked to build a coalition to punish Syria for crossing its “red line” on chemical weapons use, additional measures were being taken Friday by the IDF’s telecom and military intelligence division. The steps were aimed at safeguarding IDF’ online infrastructure, as well as government and civilian systems, from Syrian retaliation, Walla News said.
In the U.S., the Pentagon this year increased its budget for cyber operations in 2014 by 20 per cent to $4.7 billion, while budget cuts hampered the rest of the budget, because of the importance cyber-attacks in modern warfare.
The IDF has been following the Syrian Electronic Army very closely over the past two years, and believes that some of the hackers behind the group are supported directly by the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, while others are guided and assisted by Iran, Walla News said.
In 2010, the “Stuxnet” virus attack, attributed to the U.S. and Israel, damaged centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility. Since then, Iran has invested much more in developing its own computer hacking capabilities, and has shared that expertise with Syria. Iranian hackers have demonstrated their abilities in attacks on sites in Israel and the United States, particularly on the U.S. banking system and media sites. In addition to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, the UK’s Guardian and Twitter have been hacked by groups that were likely backed by Syria or Iran.
In May, Walla News reported that an Israeli computer expert found evidence that the Syrian Electronic Army had tried to hack into the water system of the Israeli city of Haifa, although their attack failed. In addition to water resources, electricity installations, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, train networks, government agency websites, Israeli media sites and the IDF are all potential cyber-warfare targets.