The IDF's cyber situation room became operational this week, making Israel one of a few countries in the world to have an advanced center of defense against cyberattacks.
According to senior officer in the IDF Computer Services Cyberdefense Division, "the situation room allows us to be up to date on current developments [in the cyberworld], utilizing Tehila (the government's internet service provider) and Ra'am (the Shin Bet's information security services)." The officer said the room would be manned 24/7 and would map out global cyberactivity, as well as activity that could potentially influence IDF decisions.
The IDF's current protocols call for local teams to deal with specific cyberattacks, while leaving the situation room to handle large scale and more severe events. "The situation room shortens the amount of time needed to identify a cyberattack. Our handling of the cyber-realm calls for being on the cutting edge and taking the initiative, and that's what the IDF did — it took the initiative," the officer said.
When asked about previous cyberattacks on Israel, the official said they "happen all around the world, and Israel is no exception. When dealing with such a rapidly advancing frontier, sometimes you succeed and sometimes you don't. We are always happy to be successful but we make sure to learn from the times we aren't. I am content to say that there have only be a few unsuccessful attempts [at thwarting a cyberattack]."
Public attention to IDF activity often brings with it additional cyberattacks. The official noted that during the May 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when an IDF boarding of a Turkish ship attempting to break the Gaza blockade turned violent and ended up with nine Turkish citizens dead, there were numerous attempts to take down the IDF Spokesperson Unit's website. The IDF was also on the receiving end of a wave of cyberattacks during Operation Pillar of Defense in November. "We have noticed a significant rise in the attempts to challenge our defense systems," the official said.