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Israel to counter terror with bolstered cyber defense

The government has ordered communications firms to step up cyber security efforts in the wake of a rise in attempted hacking attacks.

By Erin Viner

“We are trying to put the right standard on communications companies in order to protect Israel and create a kind of ‘Iron Dome’ from cyber security attacks. We are suffering from thousands of cyber attacks every year,” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said at a special press conference.

Israel uses the Iron Dome air defense system to intercept and shoot down missiles fired by Palestinian terrorists based in Gaza.

The new regulations now being implemented require mandatory compliance with unified standards, said the Communications Ministry and Israel’s National Cyber Directorate. Firms must formulate plans to protect their communications networks with monitoring and control mechanisms to ensure provision of contemporaneous protection of cyber systems and privacy levels. These measures will also involve a higher level of supervision.

Noting that risks continued to mount due to greater digitization and that “communications networks are an attractive target for cyber attacks by hostile elements,” said Minister Hendel, pointing to potential damage or shutdown of services, as well as the possible leakage of stored information.

There was a 137% annual jump in average weekly attacks on Israeli companies to nearly 1,500 per week in the first three months of 2022, according to data gathered by the Check Point cyber security firm.

New Director General of the Israel National Cyber Directorate Gaby Portnoy acknowledged of which he attributed to arch-foe Iran. These included an attempt to shut down government sites that initially began through telecom providers but ultimately failed.

Israeli telecoms firms already utilize very good cyber security, said Portnoy, while stressing that the latest regulations will be a further improvement.