Israeli Cyber Expert: Next 9/11 will happen without suicide terrorists aboard the plane

Cyber hackers targeting critical infrastructure worldwide

Strategic partnership between US & Israel not taken advantage of in cyber field

US-Israel experts to tackle new and grave cyber threats at Defensive Cyberspace Operations & Intelligence Conference to convene April 27 – 28 in Washington, DC


Tel Aviv, April 15, 2015…The recent hacking of a French TV station by ISIS, the major infiltration of Sony Pictures and news that Home Depot and Target were victims of cyber attacks affecting millions of customers is the least of the world’s worries, according to Col (ret.) Dr. Gabi Siboni, the director of the Military and Strategic Affairs Program and Cyber Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies.  “Computer hackers have begun targeting electric and nuclear power plants and other critical operations around the world in audacious and continuous efforts to take control of them,” says Dr. Siboni.

“The disruption and possible infiltration of critical infrastructure is the most severe form of cyber attack.  Such attacks on airplanes or air traffic control towers, for instance, means that hackers could cause accidents, or even to paralyze entire flight systems.  As of now, this area of capabilities is the exclusive domain of developed states.  I strongly believe however, that the next 9/11 will happen without suicide bombers aboard the plane with box-cutters but will occur because of a cyber-incident perpetrated by a terror organization.”


Unfortunately, says Dr. Siboni, the strategic partnership between Israel and the U.S. has not been taken advantage of in the field of cyber security to the detriment of both nations.  “Establishing a bilateral apparatus that combines the technological capabilities of civil and military intelligence is currently one of the most pressing issues of the day in light of both the magnitude and severity of the threats we face. Furthermore, cyber-attacks are not the exclusive domain of the private sector. Cyber aggression is widely utilized and has become a basic weapon used in international conflicts. Countries are responsible for attacks on most national infrastructure, and governments across the western world have understood that they must allocate resources not only to purchase new tanks and aerial defense systems but also in defensive cyber infrastructure. 

One of the most successful models of security cooperation is the counter missile project that lead to the development of systems such as "Iron Dome", "David's Sling", and "Arrow". Though in comparison, the cyber issue is far behind as very little cooperation exists. Israeli technology and businesses are struggling to gain foothold in the American federal defense market and are left to operate mainly in the private sector. Cooperation in the field of cyber security has yet to overcome obstacles of suspicion mainly that countries will use newly acquired technology against them.

Establishing a bilateral apparatus that combines the technological capabilities of civil and military intelligence is currently the most pressing issue of the day in light of both the magnitude and severity of threats.  Such a reality calls us to take the necessary measures that can provided us with essential capabilities needed to protect ourselves. It also requires us to change our conventional patterns of thought. Similarly to how American aid allowed enabled Israel to develop "Iron Dome" and provide unprecedented aerial defense, it is time to search for ways in which cooperation on the cyber issue will provide the protection that will prevent damage of systems critical to both countries.”

The ways to join power in the struggle against the cyber threat will be one of the main issues explored in the INSS Defensive Operations and Intelligence Cyber Security Conference & Exhibition which will be held in Washington D.C. on April 27-28.

The gather, the first of its kind in the American capital will bring together high ranking officials from Israel and the U.S. and showcase the cutting-edge Israeli technologies that have been developed to thwart the enormous strategic threats facing both Israel and the US.