TEL AVIV – Israel has set up a military cyber command to wage a computer war against Iran as senior officers become increasingly concerned that a conventional attack on Tehran’s nuclear sites could end in failure, London's The Sunday Times reported.
The new cyber command will report directly to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who has placed the program at the heart of Israel’s defense capability.
“Israel must turn into a global cyber superpower,” he told a meeting of cyber warfare experts recently.
The center, which has been set up under the auspices of military intelligence unit 8200 has already conducted a series of “soft” espionage missions, including hacking into Iran’s version of Facebook and other social networking sites.
The Stuxnet malware virus, which dramatically affected Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 by sabotaging the delicate centrifuges needed to enrich uranium, is widely believed to have been developed by Israeli and American technicians.
In April, Iranian government offices came under attack from a hitherto unknown malware virus to which Tehran officials gave the name Stars. They claimed the damage had been contained but admitted it was the second mysterious virus found since the Stuxnet attack.
“Israel has two principal targets in Iran’s cyberspace,” said a defense source with close knowledge of the cyber war preparations. “The first is its military nuclear program and its military establishment. The second is Iran’s civil infrastructure. Attacking both, we hope, will cripple the entire country’s cyberspace.”