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China tied to ‘very sophisticated’ cyber attack targeting Israel’s military elite

Special to WorldTribune.com

TEL AVIV — Israel has determined that China contributed to a major cyber attack that targeted the defense industry of the Jewish state.

Israeli sources said the defense industry and Defense Ministry were targeted in what they termed a major cyber attack earlier this month. They said hackers believed aided by those from China identified leading Israeli defense officials and executives.

IDF soldiers at a control board in the National Cyber Bureau.  /Moshe Shai/FLASH90

IDF soldiers at a control board in the National Cyber Bureau. /Moshe Shai/FLASH90

“This was a very sophisticated attack because it did not target institutions but the top members of Israel’s defense establishment,” a source said.

On Oct. 27, Israel’s Channel 2 television said the cyber attack on Israel’s defense industry failed. The television report, which quoted unidentified officials, said the hackers were believed directed by China.

“The assessment here is that the attack came from the Chinese defense industry,” the television report said.

The sources said hackers sent an e-mail that contained a virus from an unidentified German company. They said the virus, identified as a Trojan Horse, was designed to penetrate the systems of the Defense Ministry and leading Israeli defense firms.

“Defensive measures discovered the attack and thwarted it,” Nir Dvori,
the defense correspondent for Channel 2, said.

Over the last month, both the military and government have warned of
intensified threats to computer systems. Neither institution confirmed the
Chinese cyber attack.

Under U.S. pressure, Israel severed its defense and military cooperation
with China in 2005. Since then, Beijing and Jerusalem have improved
cooperation in non-military projects, including communications and infrastructure.

Israel has reported a major cyber threat from Iran and its proxies.
Officials said Iran has directed Hamas and Hizbullah to target Israel’s
infrastructure, including water, power and train networks. On Oct. 30,
Israel was scheduled to launch a cyber attack training facility.

“The facility complex is unique in that is not an ordinary simulator,
but rather it prepares the control team to experience and respond in real
time to implications of cyber attacks on sensitive infrastructure
facilities,” Israeli Energy Ministry spokeswoman Maya Etzioni said. “In order to practice
a real event, it employs the best hackers in Israel and abroad.”

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