Officials reveal hacker attacks have been ongoing with an expert in cyber warfare warning “damage to infrastructure can certainly be grounds for war.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
An expert in cyber warfare warned Friday that an Iranian cyber warfare attack that caused significant damage to Israel’s infrastructure would be “be grounds for war.”
Dr. Yaniv Levitan, an information warfare expert at the University of Haifa, explained that while recent attacks on Israel’s water system were not successful, damage to the country’s strategic infrastructure system would be crossing a red line.
His comments came after it was revealed that Israeli water and sewerage facilities were attacked several times in the past month and hundreds of Israeli websites were damaged this week by suspected Iranian hackers. Some minor damage was caused to several facilities, but no operational damage was done.
“As far as the states are concerned, there are clear lines of what can be harmed, such as industrial espionage,” Levitan told Ynet. “A state will not go to war because of industrial espionage, but damage to infrastructure can certainly be grounds for war.”
Levitan said the recent cyber attack attributed to Israel that temporarily interrupted service at a major Iranian port was an “answer using the same currency.”
“We call it a deterrent. It’s the price you’ll pay if you act against me. You choose, if you want to act – I have the ability to respond,” Levitan said.
In the world of cyber warfare, Levitan said the top powers are Russia, China and the United States, with Israel and Iran both significant players, noting that if a state has the money it cannot just buy cyber weapons, but also hire contract cyber hitmen.
“There is a lot of outsourcing. You don’t have to have your own cyber attack units. You can buy these things on the black market, on the Dark-Net. A state can buy both a (cyber) attack and assault weapons,” Levitan said, noting that the Russians are known to outsource when they want to keep a low profile, while counties like Iran are building up their capabilities.
“Iran, especially after the Stuxnet attack on its nuclear facilities, has greatly boosted its cyber capabilities,” Levitan noted, saying the attack did damage but also showed the Ayatollahs where they were vulnerable. “They invest a lot of resources in cyber warfare and technology. Both offensive and defensive. ”
“Iranians are very fond of attacking Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities. They attack financial bodies in the West, they attack government sites of rival governments. You may know that they are because there are places where they leave a signature like ‘Iranian cyber army,’ he said.
The Israel National Cyber Directorate said a server hosting Israeli websites was hacked Thursday morning in what is a suspected Iranian cyberattack. The sites’ homepages were replaced with an anti-Israel video and a message in broken Hebrew and English, saying, “the countdown of Israel destruction has begun since a long time ago.”
The video shows explosions destroying Tel Aviv while a wounded and bleeding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swims away from the burning city before switching to a view of Jerusalem with thousands of Muslims praying on the Temple Mount. The video closes with the message,“Israel won’t survive the next 25 years,” a message stated over the past years by Iranian leaders.
Hundreds of Israeli websites were attacked, including non-profits like the United Hatzalah rescue service, Yad L’Achim and Regavim. Websites of schools and seminaries were struck as well, with Iranian hackers the suspected culprits.