(May 31, 2020 / Israel Hayom) The suspected Iranian cyber attack on a minor water facility in central Israel earlier this month was “designed to trigger a humanitarian disaster,” according to Israel National Cyber Directorate head Yigal Unna.
“The word ‘fast’ doesn’t do justice to the hectic pace at which things are happening in the cyber sphere. We will remember this past month as a point of change in the history of modern cyberwars,” Unna said on Friday at an international conference on cyber technology.
“The attempt to attack Israel was coordinated and organized with the aim of crippling our humanitarian water system. This is not critical state infrastructure, and we were able to prevent the attack, but had it been successful, we would have found ourselves—in the midst of the coronavirus crisis—dealing with some damage to the civilian population and even temporary water shortages, or the introduction of chlorine or other chemicals in the wrong doses that could have ended with a disaster,” he said.
While Unna did not name Iran as the culprit, he noted that “the attacker, according to foreign media reports, was a certain state actor. We do not comment on the aggressor’s identity, but we can say that this was not a cyber crime or a ransomware attack. This [attack] was specifically aimed at causing damage to the physical sphere through command and control systems. This is the first time we have seen something like this, compared to attacks that target databases, which are also serious.”
The INCD, he said, “has to march forward. If we don’t move forward, if we don’t improve our abilities, we won’t have such a favorable result next time, and the next attack is only a matter of time.”
The attack, he said, marked the beginning of a new phase in cyber warfare.
“I’m afraid this is just a sign of a new era where cyber attacks are aimed at humanitarian purposes,” he said.
On the future of the field, said Unna, “there seem to be new rules for cyber warfare—it could be cyber versus cyber, or kinetic versus cyber—and everything will accrue to civilian-targeted warfare. We [countries] have to decide what constitutes critical infrastructure and pursue cyber risk management for nonessential state systems.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.