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Israel builds ‘cyber dome’ against Iran’s hackers

While Israel has fought Hamas in Gaza since the October 7 attack, it has also faced a significant increase in cyberattacks from Iran and its allies.

Israel mapTEL AVIV: Israel’s Iron Dome defence system has long shielded it from incoming rockets. Now it is building a “cyber dome” to defend against online attacks, especially from arch foe Iran.

“It is a silent war, one which is not visible,” said Aviram Atzaba, the Israeli National Cyber Directorate’s head of international cooperation.

While Israel has fought Hamas in Gaza since the October 7 attack, it has also faced a significant increase in cyberattacks from Iran and its allies, Atzaba said.

“They are trying to hack everything they can,” he told AFP, pointing to Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement but adding that so far “they have not succeeded in causing any real damage”.

He said around 800 significant attacks had been thwarted since the war erupted. Among the targets were government organisations, the military and civil infrastructure.

Some attacks could not be foiled, including against hospitals in the cities of Haifa and Safed in which patient data was stolen.

While Israel already has cyber defences, they long consisted of “local efforts that were not connected”, Atzaba said.

So, for the past two years, the directorate has been working to build a centralised, real-time system that works proactively to protect all of Israeli cyberspace.

Based in Tel Aviv, the directorate works under the authority of the prime minister. It does not reveal figures on its staff, budget or computing resources.

Israel collaborates closely with multiple allies, including the United States, said Atzaba, because “all states face cyber terrorism”.

“It takes a network to fight a network,” he said.

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