The Iranian Cyber Offensive during Operation Protective Edge

INSS Insight No. 598, August 26, 2014
Gabi Siboni , Sami Kronenfeld
 Although the IDF’s abilities to handle the rocket and attack tunnel threats have garnered most of the attention during the latest campaign in the Gaza Strip, it is now clear that Israel was also forced to confront cyber challenges during Operation Protective Edge. A senior officer in the C4I Corps noted that in the course of the campaign Iranian elements launched a widespread cyber offensive against Israeli targets, including attempts to damage security and financial networks. While these attempts were neutralized relatively easily and quickly by Israeli cyber defenses, it seems that Iran is investing heavily in the development of effective offensive capabilities against infrastructure systems, and might present a serious challenge to Israeli defenses within the foreseeable future. In 2013, a series of attacks on the websites of major US banks and financial institutions was attributed to Iran. An information security expert described these attacks, which included sophisticated techniques and demonstrated an ability to act in significant scope against high quality targets, as unprecedented in degree and effectiveness.

Image Bank/Getty Images

Attacks on a nation’s financial infrastructures have serious repercussions, liable to result in heavy financial damage as they disrupt routine financial activity of commercial enterprises and households alike. However, the focus of the cyber offensive during Operation Protective Edge was the civilian internet. Iranian elements participated in what the C4I officer described as an attack unprecedented in its proportions and the quality of its targets. The attack targeted IDF websites such as the Home Front Command and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, as well as civilian internet infrastructures. The attackers had some success when they managed to spread a false message via the IDF’s official Twitter account saying that the Dimona nuclear reactor had been hit by rocket fire and that there was a risk of a radioactive leak. Some of the attacks against Israel were attributed to the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group of Assad-supporting hackers that in recent years has developed significant attack capabilities and described by Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and the NSA, as a veritable Iranian proxy. Continue reading

Israeli Army dismantles spy device on border with Lebanon

January 21, 2014 12:34 AM By Mohammed Zaatari

The Daily Star

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UNIFIL soldiers stand guard as Israeli soldiers foot patrol the border area with Lebanon as seen from Adaisseh, Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

ADAISSEH, Lebanon: Calm was restored to the border Monday following a tense standoff between the Lebanese and Israeli armies, as the latter removed an apparent spy device from a disputed area. An Israeli technical specialist unit, accompanied by some 40 soldiers, entered the disputed border territory near the southern village of Adaisseh at around 11 a.m. Monday to dismantle a device found under an olive tree the day before.

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IDF’s Anti-Missile Defense Systems: A 360° Look

Posted on March 6, 2012

The IDF has many ways to protect Israeli citizens from rocket fire–chief among them being the anti-missile defense systems. The technology was developed, together with the US Army, in order to combat the increasing missile and rocket proliferation of Israel’s enemies. Here’s a detailed look at the IDF’s three leading systems:

Iron Dome Missile Defense System

IDF’s Iron Dome is on-call and ready.

1. Iron Dome

The first tier of Israel’s multi-layered defense system is the Israeli-developed Iron Dome system which was designed in response to the rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome system can determine where an incoming rocket will land,and intercept projectiles that pose significant threats in mid-flight .

The Iron Dome system has three main components:

  1. Tracking radar – locates the rockets and calculates landing site
  2. Battle management and weapon control system – operator’s seat
  3. Missile firing unit – fires an intercepting missile

The decision to build Iron Dome was made by the Ministry of Defense in 2007, following a particular turbulent year on Israel’s northern border with the Hezbollah terrorist organization during the Second Lebanon War.

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Israel tests new nuclear-capable missile, ends joint air exercise with Italy, starts missile drill

Wednesday, Nov. 2, shortly after announcing the successful test launch from the Palmachim base of a new, intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, Israel disclosed in unusual detail a joint Israeli-Italian air exercise ending last Friday, Nov. 29, at Sardinia.

Foreign sources identified the ICBM as an upgraded Jericho 3 said able to deliver a 750-kilo nuclear warhead to a distance of 7,000 kilometers – further, if fitted with a smaller warhead. Western intelligence experts estimate that 42 missiles with conventional warheads are enough to seriously disable Iran‘s main nuclear facilities in Natanz, Isfahan and Arak.

As for Iran’s newest subterranean Fordo facility near Qom, the US supplied Israel with GBU-28 bunker busters in the third week of September.

Six IAF squadrons took part in the joint one-week exercise with Italy consisting of fourteen F-16 F-16 single and twin-seaters from the Ramat David air base, joined by Boeing craft for in-flight refueling of war planes, the Eitam (G550) Air Control early warning aircraft and Hercules transports taking off from the Nevatim air base in the Negev.

The Italian air force flew the advanced Eurofighter Typhoon, AMX, Panavia Tornado and F-16s.

After the two releases, the Israel Defense Forces announced Wednesday that a large-scale exercise had just begun to prepare central Israel for missile attack.

This rush of military activity coincided with speculative reports splashed across Israeli media in the last fortnight that Israeli leaders are in mid-debate over whether or not to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Those reports are unfounded, debkafile‘s military sources report. Binyamin Netanyahu‘s inner cabinet of eight is in fact trying to determine the usefulness of abandoning its longstanding policy of nuclear ambiguity at this time. An attack is not on its current agenda.

November promises to be an especially critical month.

The report on Iran the International Atomic Agency in Vienna is due to publish next Tuesday, Nov. 8 is generally expected to reveal in close detail the advances the Islamic Republic has made toward producing a nuclear weapon. Most of this will not be news to the parties which follow Iran’s progress toward this goal. However, the formal exposure of the scale of this program and Iran’s indictment by the nuclear watchdog is intended to shock world opinion, thereby helping US President Barack Obama to go all the way with really tough sanctions, such as international boycotts of Iranian fuel and the Iranian state bank.
Tehran has warned that these sanctions would be deemed an act of war.

Western intelligence experts as well debkafile‘s Iran watchers believe that the Iranian leadership will not be content with statements refuting the IAEA report but will opt for a more active response. They suggest Tehran may lift the veil over a section of its nuclear achievements, as though to say: Enough of this nuclear hide-and-seek; we are about to be a nuclear power like just like Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
Tehran may also conduct a complete or partial nuclear test, or else exhibit a new ballistic capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

These steps might be designed to give President Obama pause. Because Tehran would calculate that if it has already crossed the nuclear threshold, what would be the point of tough sanctions?
At the same time, Tehran has made the necessary preparations for counteracting the impact of drastic penalties with the help of Russia, China and to a lesser extent India. Nearly all Iranian oil deals are now channeled through a Russian-Iranian sales mechanism operating in Moscow and out of American and Western reach. Russian banks are handling Iran’s international financial transactions in currencies other than the US dollar – mostly the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan.

However, Iran’s leaders are still weighing their response to the IAEA report and have not yet decided finally how to treat the new sanctions President Obama may have up his sleeve. The tense debates afoot in Washington and Jerusalem over how to handle the volatile scenario ahead have not missed Tehran.
Syria is another complicating factor and poses hard dilemma:

This is because Bashar Assad’s continued crackdown on protest with dozens of deaths caused day by day on both sides of the conflict could at any moment galvanize Tehran into radical action in the wake of the nuclear controversy. Counter-responses by the West and Israel could light the fuse of a regional war.

In these circumstances, a damaging IAEA report on Iran would do more than expose its nuclear misconduct; it could bring the Middle East dangerously close to a regional conflict.

In the last two weeks, therefore, Western governments led by the US as well as Israel have been turning over their options for urgent decisions on how to react to potential Iranian aggression.

The Israeli media’s portrayal of the debate within the cabinet in Jerusalem as an argument between two ministerial factions for and against attacking Iran is false, designed to assault the judgment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
It is also seriously detrimental to Israel’s security.

In an angry statement Wednesday, Nov. 2, Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor condemned those reports as irresponsible and more damaging even than the betrayal by the Israeli soldier Anat Kamm of secret military documents to an unauthorized person for which she was given jail time this week. The more publicity given this non-existent debate, he said, the edgier Damascus and Tehran will become and the closer to warlike steps. It also has an undesirable effect on Iran’s nuclear decision-making and the severity of Assad’s campaign of suppression.

Military action against Iran, alone or with US support, is therefore not Israel’s current agenda, although an ever-present option.The subject under discussion, debkafile‘s military and intelligence sources stress, is what to do if the nuclear watchdog’s revelations next Tuesday demonstrate that Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon is too far advanced to stop and a nuclear-armed Iran is therefore close to reality.
The cabinet is consequently trying to decide whether the time has come for Israel to come clean on its presumed nuclear capability, or stay silent and back Washington on the imposition of sanctions, knowing that their deterrent value has dropped to nil.

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Naksa Day: 6 reported dead, 12 hurt on Israel-Syria border

Photo by: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

By JPOST.COM STAFF AND YAAKOV LAPPIN
06/05/2011 12:20

Red Cross given access to wounded; IDF confirms injuries, not deaths; armed men seen on Syrian side of border; demonstrators still attempting to breach border; TV shows protesters carried away on stretchers.

Syrian television on Sunday reported that six people were killed and 10 injured along the Syria-Israel border in the Golan Heights near Majdal Shams, reportedly from IDF fire. The IDF spokesperson said that the only information it had on deaths on the border were Syrian reports and therefore, it could not confirm the number of people killed or if there were any deaths.

After several hours of clashes, IDF began allowing Red Cross teams access to the Syrian border area in order to evacuate wounded protesters, Channel 10 reported.

Two armed men were identified near the border fence in Kunetra, on the Syrian side of the border, the IDF Spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday afternoon.

There was no further official information about he identity of the gunmen, or their proximity to the border but a security official suggested that the men could be Syrian police or army forces

Prior to spotting the armed men, according to the IDF spokesperson, around 150 people managed to cross to the Syrian side of the fence, entering a mined zone between the two fences in the Majdal Shams area.

“We issued warnings for them to stop advancing. When they continued, we fired warning shots in the air,” an IDF spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.

When the demonstrators continued toward the Israeli fence, they said, shots were fired at their lower bodies. “We know of 12 injuries,” she added.

A second demonstration was observed on the Syrian border in Kunetra, where 200 to 300 demonstrators amassed. The IDF said there was no attempt to cross the border at that event, and no injuries were recorded

IDF forces were sending Arabic-language messages through loudspeakers over the border, warning that anyone approaching the fence would be killed.

Syrian television also reported that demonstrators were attempting to breach the fence at several other points in the Golan Heights, Channel 2 reported. Continue reading

Five Suspected Terrorists Arrested

Structure of the Israel Defense Forces

Image via Wikipedia

Reported: 11:45 AM – Sep/27/10

Five suspected terrorists were arrested Sunday night in Salfit, south of Shechem.

During searches of the suspects home conducted by IDF soldiers, they found a short M-16 gun, an improvised rifle, three pistols, ammunition and equipment for an IDF rabbi. The weapons were confiscated and the suspects transferred to security forces for questioning.

Read more:News Briefs – Israel National News.