IDF forming elite hacker unit to counter cyber threat

Young computer experts are being recruited by the IDF's cyber-warfare unit. (Flash 90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—The Israel Defense Forces is recruiting hundreds of young computer mavens to join its cyber-warfare personnel. The move follows the release of the credit card information of thousands of Israelis by a Saudi hacker and a cyber-attack on Israel’s firefighters’ website by hackers in Gaza.

Last month the IDF recruited some 300 young computer experts, some of them right out of high school, to serve in the two branches responsible for cyber-warfare.

“We are not where we would like to be when it comes to the cyber world and we are working to improve our capabilities,” a senior officer told The Jerusalem Post.

The government recently established a computer task force to coordinate the development of software and cyber capabilities among local defense and hi-tech companies.

The IDF has invested heavily in recent years to digitize the ground forces in order to protect communications from enemy hackers during a war. “For us, cyber defense means retaining the ability to continue operating and to be able to rely on the security and availability of our networks,” a senior officer said.

The preparations are timely. Last month, Iran unveiled a plan to spend $1 billion to develop technology and hire computer experts to boost the Islamic Republic’s offensive and defensive cyber-warfare capabilities.