Israeli Army Recruiting Hackers Abroad For Cyber-Ops

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Seeking to bolster its pool of cyber-warfare specialists, the Israeli military is scouting for computer hackers among Jewish communities worldwide.

Because of a growing demand, the army’s Personnel Directorate said it needs suitable candidates for Unit 8200, which operates within the Intelligence Corps and oversees defensive and offensive cyber operations.

Military head-hunters have been dispatched to track “young computer geniuses” with a potential to become so-called “cyber warriors,” and to persuade them to pass over lucrative positions in the hi-tech private sector and immigrate to Israel, the Hebrew Yedioth Ahronoth daily said.

It’s already clear that a big demand for soldiers in this field is just a matter of time, which is why we are looking for solutions, not only here but abroad,” a senior officer told the newspaper.

We are facing big challenges in the cyber area and are fighting to win every suitable candidate,” he said.

The disclosure comes amid recent reports that the Israeli army is working to enhance its cyber-warfare abilities. Military intelligence chief  Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi is slated to invest 2 billion shekels (525 million U.S. dollars) to that end in the coming years.

In early June, the military officially acknowledged that it uses cyber-warfare for offensive military operations, in a post on its website.

Professionally speaking, the Israel Defense Forces is fighting consistently and relentlessly in cyberspace, is collecting intelligence and protecting the army’s networks as well. When needed, cyberspace is also used to execute attacks,” the post said.

The confirmation came days after “Flame”, a new and mysterious virus widely presumed to have been developed by Israel, was discovered to have attacked computerized networks in Iran and other Middle East countries.

Uncovered by Moscow-based Kaspersky, a leading information security firm, Flame turns every computer it infects into a spy, transmitting screenshots, instant message chats, data files and recorded conversations to its operators.

While Israel kept mum on the matter, Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky said only a government could have managed such a complex project.

Last year, another virus, dubbed “Stuxnet”, was widely reported to have sabotaged the computing networks of Iran’s nuclear program, setting it back by months, with Tehran accusing Israel and the United States of inserting the malicious code.

Apart from the military, Israel is investing significant resources in protecting its own civilian digital networks used in banking, energy production and other civilian infrastructure. Cyber security is now a national priority and the government and security agencies are working to identify vulnerabilities in the nation’s critical systems.

In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, citing a growing cyber threat from Iran, approved funding for the National Cyber Bureau (NCB), an agency established earlier this year to ensure the protection of the country’s critical civilian and military networks against cyber threats.

A government statement did not divulge the amount that was allocated, but said the agency is drawing up plans for a national cyber situation room, which will provide government organizations with threat assessments, and is working to increase state regulation of information security.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu said Iran is trying to hack scores of Israeli networks on a daily basis.

Just as we have an Iron Dome system against missiles, we will have a defense system against cyber-attacks,” he said. (source)


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