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Israel Wants Cyber ‘Iron Dome’ To Counter Cyber Attacks

Israel’s government on Monday ordered communications firms to step up their cybersecurity efforts after a rise in attempted hacking attacks. The initiative is an effort to protect the country’s critical assets from what officials say are increasingly frequent cyber attacks.

The mandate, made jointly by the Communications Ministry and National Cyber Directorate, sets out a list of requirements that includes installing monitoring and control systems, while making boards of directors responsible for the completion of cybersecurity plans.

The ministry declined to elaborate on what penalties might be enforced on firms that fail to meet the requirements.

“We are trying to put the right standard on communications companies in order to protect Israel and create a kind of ‘Iron Dome’ from cybersecurity attacks. We are suffering from thousands of cyber attacks every year,” Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said.

The Iron Dome anti-missile system, which first went into operation in April 2011, was designed to intercept and destroy rockets from the Gaza Strip. Mr Hendel said that risks continue to mount as digitisation grows.

Communications firms will be required to develop monitoring mechanisms for providing a real-time picture of the cybersecurity efforts being taken, while ensuring privacy and the integrity of collected data. The companies will be required to purchase state-of-the-art technological capabilities for identifying, containing and recovering from potential cyber attacks.

“Communications networks are an attractive target for cyber attacks by hostile elements,” Mr Hendel said, citing potential damage or shutdown of services and leakage of information being stored.

The announcement came after attempted cyber attacks in Israel jumped 137 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to a year earlier. The attacks came primarily in the insurance, education, healthcare, government and manufacturing sectors, said cybersecurity firm, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Some organisations came under attack more than 1,400 times on a weekly basis, compared with 750 times per week last year, the company said.

Gaby Portnoy, Israel’s new cybersecurity chief, said that in the last month alone, there had been a sharp rise in attacks that tried to bring down websites in Israel. He accused Iranians of carrying out many of the attacks.

Last month, Mr Protonoy said, a denial-of-service attack aimed at bringing down government sites began through telecom providers but failed.

In October, hackers breached an Israeli hospital in an apparent ransomware attack.

Mr Portnoy said Israeli telecommunications firms had very good cyber security, but that the new regulations, which include a higher level of supervision, would be an improvement.

Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., Israel’s largest telecommunication company, said it was still examining the government’s requirements and declined to comment further. A company representative said it already meets strict cyber regulations.

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