January 26, 2012
Israel Defense Forces are engaging hackers to protect their network-centric systems
As recently reported by The Jerusalem Post, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are assembling elite teams of computer hackers to lead the nation’s cyber-warfare efforts, in a move that responds to the increasing concern over the growing threat to Israel’s civilian and military networks from Iran.
The new soldiers will serve in Military Intelligence as well as in the C4I Directorate, i.e. the two military branches responsible for cyber-warfare in the IDF, with the first one more focused on cyber offense and the second one dedicated to cyber defense.
One of the IDF’s primary concerns is the possibility that an enemy will topple military networks during a war. In recent years, the military has invested heavily in digitizing its ground forces, for example with the Tzayad digital army program that allows units to share information on the location of friendly and hostile units.
Developed by Elbit Systems, the Tzayad – recently installed in several IDF units – connects all land assets together by enabling every tank to see where the artillery and infantry units are located and vice versa.
Built around a wireless backbone supported by software programmable radios, Tsayad architecture is basically composed of a SW layer called TIGER (Tactical Intranet Geographic dissEmination) that ties the system into legacy systems; a blue force tracker (the TORC2H system), a lightweight tactical operations center, plus a number of other command and communications applications.
Tzayad technologies are aimed to provide enhanced situational awareness and ad hoc networking for voice, data and video transmissions between the various branches of Israel’s Defense Forces. Basically, the goal is to reduce sensor-to-shooter cycles by streaming real-time data to commanders, and allowing direct re-transmission of the consolidated data picture back to the field. This enables force coordination at all levels, access to updated situational pictures, improved overall operational capabilities, survivability and accuracy, and more efficient utilization of personnel and other resources.
The program fits within the modernization strategy that was included since 2005 in the doctrine of Israel Armed Forces. Military confidence in fully-networked systems received a severe blow, however, during the the Israel-Hezbollah War of 2006, when Hezbollah commandos penetrated the high-tech barrier on the Lebanese border and "a semi-military organization of a few thousand men resisted, for a few weeks, the strongest army in the Middle East, which enjoyed full air superiority and size and technology advantages" (as illustrated by the Winograd Commission Report).
Reference: The Jerusalem Post (1,2), Defense Industry Daily (3), DefenceTech (4), DefenceNews.com (5)