A Shady Israeli Intel Genius, His Cyber-spy Van and Million-dollar Deals

Tal Dilian was a respected member of Israel's elite intel units. In recent years he’s set up shop overseas and has orchestrated a number of massive cyber deals | A profile

Tal Dilian sits next to his pool in his Limassol home. He was photographed by Reuters as part of a story about using spytech to help track the spread of the coronavirus
Tal Dilian sits next to his pool in his Limassol home. He was photographed by Reuters as part of a story about using spytech to help track the spread of the coronavirus Credit: Yiannis Kourtoglou / REUTERS
Shuki Sadeh
Shuki Sadeh
Shuki Sadeh
Shuki Sadeh

"Meet Tal Dilian, one of the oldest hands in the often murky world of cyber surveillance. The ex-Israeli intelligence officer is showing us one of his new toys, a 9 million dollar van full of NSA level surveillance kit that he claims can hack a smartphone and snoop on all the messages within.” That is how a video filmed by Forbes magazine in August 2019 opened. The video showed Col. (res.) Tal Dilian, a former commander of the intelligence corps’ Unit 81 who was considered one of the Israel Defense Forces’ most promising officers back in the 1990s, sitting in a van in Larnaca, Cyprus and demonstrating its ability to hack into smartphones within a radius of 500 meters from the vehicle.