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Iran is dominant rival to Israel in cyberwarfare, Israel cyber chief admits

A 'Cyber Security' sign is displayed in the window of a computer store on December 18, 2020 [OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images]
A 'Cyber Security' sign is displayed in the window of a computer store on December 18, 2020 [OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel's cybersecurity chief has admitted that Iran – along with the militant groups, Hezbollah and Hamas – is its most dominant rival in regards to cyberwarfare, as the cyberwar between Tehran and Tel Aviv continues to escalate.

The Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) head, Gaby Portnoy, made the comments at Tel Aviv University's Cyber Week today, saying that "We see them, we know how they work and we are there."

Portnoy confirmed that Israel is constructing a "cyber iron dome" which will use new mechanisms and technology to strengthen the country's cybersecurity sphere, "reduce cyberattacks, provide new big data and an AI [artificial intelligence] overall approach to synchronise nationwide real-time detection".

He stressed that "we are moving faster from resilience to proactive defence" by targeting attackers in their online and digital safe havens. The INCD head also expressed the need for the application of "cybersecurity protocols for infrastructure" for the wider public, which would involve providing tools and skills to the Israeli private sector and supply chains.

Portnoy's acknowledgment of Iran being Israel's dominant cyber rival comes a day after a cyberattack hit the major Iranian steel firm, Khuzestan Steel Company and its facilities yesterday, forcing it to halt production.

Although the attack was not directly carried out by Israel and was, instead, conducted by an Iranian opposition hacker group, it came a week after false siren alert went off in the cities of Jerusalem and Eilat, which Tel Aviv suspects was caused by an Iranian cyberattack.

READ: Middle East nuclear proliferation may be on the way, but the immediate threat is cyberwarfare

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