Israel is one of the strongest nations when it comes to cyber capabilities, according to a report published Monday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Israel was ranked on a par with Australia, Canada, China, France, Russia and Britain, and above Iran and North Korea.

The report assessed the cyber power of 15 countries, separating them into three categories based on their ability to assist national decision-makers in calculating strategic risk and deciding on strategic investments.

The United States ranked highest on the list and was the only country in the highest-ranked category.

“Dominance in cyberspace has been a strategic goal of the United States since the mid-1990s,” the report said. “It is the only country with a heavy global footprint in both civil and military uses of cyberspace … The U.S. retains a clear superiority over all other countries in terms of its ICT [Information and Communications Technology] empowerment.”

Israel was ranked in the second-highest category, along with six other countries.

According to the report, Israel “was one of the first countries to identify cyberspace as a potential threat to its national security, and started to address the issue more than 20 years ago.”

The document said that technological and geopolitical changes had caused several organizational reforms in Israel, which culminated in 2018 with the establishment of the Israeli National Cyber Directorate within the Prime Minister’s Office.

It also cited several cyberattacks against Tehran attributed to Jerusalem by foreign publications.

“Notable attacks that have been attributed to Israel include the use of the Stuxnet worm against Iran, between 2008 and 2010, and an attack against an Iranian port in 2020,” the report said, adding, “It appears that Israel has a well-developed capacity for offensive cyber operations and is prepared to undertake them in a wide range of circumstances.”

Along with countries like India, Japan and North Korea, the third category also included Israel’s arch enemy, Iran.

According to the report, “Iran regards itself as being in an intelligence and cyber war with its enemies. In 2010, when the Stuxnet attack on Iran by the United States and Israel was revealed, the country had little access to international cyber-security suppliers and only a very small number of domestic researchers in the field.

“Since then, however, it has become a determined cyber actor against U.S., Gulf Arab and Israeli interests.” And yet, economic and political hardships “suggest that Iran will not be able to boost its indigenous cyber-defense capability easily or quickly.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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