Israel's Cyber Chief Voices Concerns Over Potential Escalation of Iranian Cyber Attacks

Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska Senior Editor
Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska Senior Editor

Gaby Portnoy, the head of the Israel National Cyber Directorate, has expressed concerns about Iran potentially launching more serious attacks on Israel’s infrastructure amid the Israel-Hamas war.

“They [Iran] know that they can act there more freely [in cyberspace] than in the physical space. We are prepared for that as much as we can,” Israel’s cyber defense chief told CNN Monday. Portnoy then hinted at possible countermeasures by Israeli cyberforces should Iran intensify its cyber attacks against Israel.

Israel has seen an increase in cyber attacks since the beginning of the conflict with Hamas. This includes attempts of digital break-ins and sabotage from cyber activists claiming to act in support of the people in Palestine. So far, they’ve succeeded in seizing minor pieces of data and temporarily disabling websites, including The Jerusalem Post.

“We’ve been targeted by a succession of devastating cyberattacks since the warfare started yesterday morning. We’ve been trying to deal with them, but they’ve taken us down several times,” wrote The Jerusalem Post’s editor Avi Mayer in an email.

In another instance, anti-Israel groups hacked a billboard in the Israeli city of Holon to show images of rockets and a burning Israeli flag. Other hackers, believed to be Iranian, gained access to security cameras in Israel and shared a video online instructing viewers how to make a Molotov cocktail and “attack the Israeli and American embassies.”

So far, the damage has been modest.

Tel Aviv cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies told Bloomberg that efforts to attack Israel’s government and military in cyberspace have grown by 50% compared to numbers before the war.

“We see more significant attack groups, Iranian and others, more involved in threats and I assume also active attacks against Israeli targets which are so far unsuccessful,” Check Point’s Chief of Staff Gil Messing said.

One of the most prominent hacker groups that are believed to have ties to the Iranian government is Agonizing Serpens. U.S. cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks announced this week that it had blocked a series of cyberattacks on Israel from that group that targeted technology and educational organizations. Palo Alto Networks explains these attacks began long before the war but they have continued into at least last month.

About the Author
Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska
Senior Editor

About the Author

Penka Hristovska is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She was an editor at several review sites that covered all things technology — including VPNs and password managers — and had previously written on various topics, from online security and gaming to computer hardware. She’s highly interested in the latest developments in the cybersecurity space and enjoys learning about new trends in the tech sector. When she’s not in “research mode,” she’s probably re-watching Lord of The Rings or playing DOTA 2 with her friends.