EXCLUSIVE-Cyber takes centre stage in Israel's war strategy

Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:37pm GMT
 

* Iran's Stuxnet worm has fingers pointing at Israel

* Israelis seen weighing "deniable" tactics against foe

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Cyber warfare has quietly grown into a central pillar of Israel's strategic planning, with a new military intelligence unit set up to incorporate high-tech hacking tactics, Israeli security sources said on Tuesday.

Israel's pursuit of options for sabotaging the core computers of foes like Iran, along with mechanisms to protect its own sensitive systems, were unveiled last year by the military intelligence chief, Major-General Amos Yadlin.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since set cyber warfare as a national priority, "up there with missile shields and preparing the homefront to withstand a future missile war", a senior source said on condition of anonymity.

Disclosures that a sophisticated computer worm, Stuxnet, was uncovered at the Bushehr atomic reactor and may have burrowed deeper into Iran's nuclear programme prompted foreign experts to suggest the Israelis were responsible. [nLDE68Q1MG]

Israel has declined to comment on any specific operations. Analysts say cyber capabilities offer it a stealthy alternative to the air strikes that it has long been expected to launch against Iran but which would face enormous operational hurdles as well as the risk of triggering regional war. [nLDE5BE29K]   Continued...

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