http://digital-intifada.blogspot.com/2012/04/digital-intifada-exclusive-interview.html

Monday, 15 October 2012

"Israel under cyber attack from Iran": PM

Iranian hackers are trying daily to break into scores of Israeli computer networks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

"There is an increase in attempts to carry out cyber attacks, and every day there are incidents of attempts to infiltrate into government computers," Netanyahu told the cabinet at the weekly session.

However, Netanyahu continued, "Last year, I established a national cyber headquarters to block these attempts," likening the anti-hacking task force to a digital "Iron Dome" anti-missile system protecting southern towns and cities from incoming rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip.

"Just as we have an Iron Dome system against missiles and barbed wire fences against infiltrators and terrorists, we will have a defense system against cyber attacks -- but it takes time," Netanyahu said, in a statement sent to Xinhua.

Netanyahu's words come only days after senior American officials cautioned that Iranian-affiliated hackers would try to perpetrate a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" against United States' interests, after a series of cyber attacks in the United States and the Gulf.

On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a group of business leaders in New York that Tehran has "undertaken a concerted effort to use cyberspace to its advantage," but warned that "potential aggressors should be aware that the United States has the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable for actions that harm America or its interests."

In recent weeks, computer networks belonging to a number of American banks were hacked into, and in August, a computer virus that inserted into Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil company network destroyed data on a reported 30,000 computers.

Earlier this year, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) said it had increased monitoring of local banking networks in order to foil potential cyber attacks that could wreak havoc on the nation's financial and economic institutions.

The ISA has redefined the banking institutions' security definition as "essential," over concerns that such hacker attacks, primarily aimed at the large banks, could cause massive damage to the country's cash flow.

The higher classification would allow the ISA to gain direct supervision over their electronic security assets, the local Ha' aretz daily reported in May.

Earlier this year, a lower-level cyber skirmish erupted between Israeli and Saudi hackers, which lasted for over a month.

The public coding war began when a Saudi hacker exposed, in a downloadable file, some 14,000 Israeli citizens' credit card numbers and personal information. Israel's national airline El Al and its stock exchange websites also took a hit from the hackers.

The attack led to the formation of a counter Israeli hacking group, who claimed "payback" attacks on Saudi credit card sites. The Israeli group claimed that along with the credit card information, they also managed to access personal data of the Saudi card-holders.

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