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Israel Suspects China in Failed Cyberattack Vs. Defense Industry

Oct. 28, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By BARBARA OPALL-ROME   |   Comments
Retired Maj. Gen. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the research council that led to the 2011 establishment of Israel's National Cyber Bureau, said authorities were unlikely to make public accusations or to elaborate on methodologies employed by suspected cyber offenders.
Retired Maj. Gen. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the research council that led to the 2011 establishment of Israel's National Cyber Bureau, said authorities were unlikely to make public accusations or to elaborate on methodologies employed by suspected cyber offenders. (INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SURVEYORS)
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TEL AVIV — Israeli authorities suspect Chinese involvement in a failed cyberattack targeting 140 top defense industry executives and program officials, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.

The attempted attack took place several weeks ago in the form of an email sent to scores of industry executives and program officials from an unnamed German company “known to Israeli industry,” said Nir Dvori, the network’s senior defense reporter.

In his Oct. 27 report, Dvori said, “defensive measures” managed to detect and “close down” the threat before recipients had an opportunity to open the mail and release a Trojan horse embedded within the seemingly innocent correspondence.

“Defensive measures discovered the attack and thwarted it. The assessment here is that the attack came from the Chinese defense industry,” Channel 2 reported.

Myriam Nahon, an MoD spokeswoman, said the ministry does not comment on media reports involving cyber matters.

In interviews here, several defense industry executives confirmed that firms were conducting refresher training on protocols and procedures associated with information and network defense. None of the executives contacted agreed to elaborate on the incident or to identify the German firm that served as an unwitting delivery vehicle for the attempted cyberattack.

Retired Maj. Gen. Isaac Ben-Israel, chairman of the research council that led to the 2011 establishment of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, also declined comment on the specific event reported by Channel 2.

Nevertheless, in an Oct. 28 interview, Ben-Israel said authorities here were unlikely to make public accusations or to elaborate on methodologies employed by suspected cyber offenders.

“Thousands of cyberattacks are directed at us every day; some of them more sophisticated and some of them less so. The problem is that as good as we are at detecting and thwarting such attacks and as credible as we are in forensic investigations after the fact, there always remains the problem of attribution.”

According to Ben-Israel, a former director of Israeli defense research and development, “cyber offenders unfortunately do not leave their signature in Mandarin Chinese, Russian or any other language. ... We can suspect, but we can only suspect; and redouble defensive measures for the attack.”

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