Israel, Iran announce strategies to counter cyberthreats

Israeli electronics networks are under permanent threat, the government said

Israel is setting up a national task force to expand the state's ability to defend vital infrastructure networks from cyberterrorist attacks by foreign countries and terrorist elements, according to a report on Wednesday by the country's prime minister's office.

The task force is being established following several cyberattacks that have taken place around the world in recent years, including those which disrupted the electricity grid in Brazil, banks in Estonia and elections in Myanmar, the report said.

Israeli electronic networks are also under permanent threat, it added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed the allocation of a special budget to implement a five-year plan, which includes investments in academic research and development, establishment of a super computer-based center at an Israeli university, the establishment of academic centers of excellence, and accelerated activity to bring researchers and academics back to Israel, significantly increasing the number of cybernetics students and upgrading university research infrastructures.

Iran, Israel's bitter opponent, also plans to set up its first cybercommand to counter cyberthreats, according to a report by the country's semi-official Mehr News Agency.

The report did not provide details on the cybercommand, though it indicated that it would be similar to the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and similar organizations set up in some countries in Europe.

In June, 2009, the U.S. Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command to establish USCYBERCOM to handle the operations and defense of specified Department of Defense information networks and conduct full-spectrum military cyberspace operations when required. Initial operational capability was achieved in May 2010, the Department of Defense said.

The Mehr report comes about a month after the general investigating the Stuxnet attack on Iran's nuclear program told Mehr News that the country was hit by a second targeted attack, from a worm dubbed Stars. Brigadier General Gholam-Reza Jalali, director of Iran's Passive Defense Organization, did not give any details about what facilities the worm targeted or when experts first detected it.

Iran has completed the preliminary studies for the new cybercommand, Brigadier General Masood Jazayeri of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps told Mehr.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard is often accused of directing cyberattacks in other countries.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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