In an interview with Channel Two, Yitzchak Ben-Yisrael, a Tel Aviv professor who is one of Israel’s most important cybersecurity experts and director of the National Cybersecurity Institute, said that Israel was subject to as many as 2 million cyberattacks a day. “The cyber threat to Israel is huge,” said Ben-Yisrael. “We were one of the first countries to recognized cyber[crime] as a threat.”
Until very recently, most companies and governments saw cybersecurity as an issue relating to the protection of data. “At the same time, Israel saw cyber[crime] as a true threat, he said. “For example, a cyberattack could give hackers control over a railway system, or interrupt power generation at an electricity plant. Exactly this kind of attack occurred in Ukraine earlier this year, and of course there was the destruction of the Iranian centrifuges” in the Stuxnet virus attack against Iranian nuclear power plants several years ago.
In the past several years, Israel has developed a capacity to determine where an attack is stemming from, even if the attackers are anonymous, said Ben-Yisrael. “We can determine if we are being attacked by governments, terrorists, or criminal gangs. We can also determine the true target of an attack,” which is not always obvious because of the many servers hackers try to hijack and use to carry out an attack.
“We see between 200,000 and 2 million cyberattacks against us, depending on the day, external circumstances,” said Ben-Yisrael. “Hackers attack our infrastructure, but we are well defended,” he added.