Israel Foiled 1,500 Hacking Attempts This Year, Cyber Chief Says

In his first detailed address since taking office, the head of Israel's National Cyber Directorate warned that 'Iran has become a central player that we have identified in the cyber sphere'

Omer Benjakob
Omer Benjakob
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Minister of Communication Yoaz Hendel with Gaby Portnoy, CEO of Israel's National Cyber Directorate at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday.
Minister of Communication Yoaz Hendel with Gaby Portnoy, CEO of Israel's National Cyber Directorate at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday.Credit: Ministry of Communication Ministry, spokesperson's office
Omer Benjakob
Omer Benjakob

Israel has blocked about 1,500 cyberattacks in the past year, the National Cyber Directorate's director general Gabi Portnoy said on Tuesday, adding that "Iran has become a central player that we have identified in the cyber sphere."

In his first detailed speech since taking office, Portnoy mentioned the "cybercriminals" in the area, citing Hamas and Hezbollah alongside Iran. "We see them, we know how they work, and we are there," he added.

In an address during Tel Aviv University's Cyber Week, he said he is working to secure Israel's economy against such attacks, explaining "a new flagship project to strengthen the entire economy's cyber defense. The project will use new mechanisms that will help predict and halt attacks using big-data analytics combined with artificial intelligence."

"Only through cooperation between countries along with cyber defense companies, academia, government and security bodies, we will be able to defend ourselves in the cyberwar and create a broad cyber defensive iron dome," he concluded.

The outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke during Tel Aviv University's cyber week and predicted a significant widening of the role of cyberwar. Likely addressing previous media reports of recent Israeli strikes against targets within Iran, Bennett said that Israel is “doing pretty well on the defensive side.”

“My approach with our enemies, especially Iran, we don't go around just wrecking havoc in Tehran. That's never been our policy. But our policy is if you mess with Israel you'll pay a price and you can no longer hit Israel through proxies and get away with it. We’re not going to try and fight those folks but hit the bully," he added.

In addition, the Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point recently released a report on an Iranian espionage operation in which hackers took over and impersonated the email accounts of senior Israeli officials.

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