Russian cyber threat has been a focus at the prestigious Tel Aviv Cyber Week 2017, closing in Tel Aviv. According to the Newsweek account, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made "tackling cyber-crime a matter of national importance as the country experiences dozens of attacks on the national level" every month, he said at the conference on Monday, attributing them to the "usual suspects."
Now, who would they be? A couple of days before the conference started The Times of Israel ran a headline saying: "To stop Russia and other hackers, we need to overhaul the internet". In his interview to the online edition the host of the event Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel, an ex-general who is credited for developing Israel’s cybersecurity agencies, elaborated on what needs to be done to counter a threat coming from Russia.
The professor went as far as reiterating the claims Russia had effectively influenced the outcome of the US election. "We know Russian groups interfered, he told the journalist. - Just read the memo to that effect that was signed by the various US intelligence chiefs. We know for sure that the attack was done by Russia. In the US elections, the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee, got hold of files, played with them and distributed them. They hacked Hillary Clinton and (former secretary of state Colin) Powell. They influenced the election". He also said Israel was an attractive target for attacks of the kind.
Weird as it sounds, does the rhetoric imply that Israeli expert community is bracing itself for a confrontation with Russia? InfoRos asked Yaakov Kedmi about this, a prominent expert on Israeli security issues.
"As for all the talk of Russia’s influencing the outcome of the US election – I could only say that idiocy is eternal and boundless.
As for potential confrontation between Israel and Russia, well, cyberwar is waged by all against all. Which means that all scenarios are analyzed and prepared for. We do not care who is capable and attempts to break into our cyberspace. We develop ways to protect ourselves from all kinds of cyberthreat, regardless where it comes from.
Experts tend to assess Russian capabilities as most serious. However, in that sense you could say we are getting ready to fend off cyberthreat from the US or China. Now, as far as I know, no one in Isreali professional community believes there is real risk of a cyberwar with Russia.
Cyberwarfare has two main directions. Targeting civil objects, government structures, electric grids, etc – would be the first one. And the second is purely military, as the focus of the attacks would be disrupting coordination and command of military units.
All that could only be possible in total military conflict between Israel and Russia, in which case both Russian and Israeli military objects come under cyberattack. Yet, if there is no military conflict with Russia, there will be no cyberattacks.
If there is anyone who maintains that a prospect of war between Israel and Russia is real – that is his own problem. If you ask me – I see no real threat or possibility of a total confrontation between the Russian and Israeli armies. All talk of military action launched by one of these countries against the other – is an invention of disturbed mind, totally groundless and absolutely absurd."