For the very first time, strategic collaboration to confront cyber terrorism was launched between the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the IDC Herzliya, and the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) Cyber Gym to deal with cyber terrorism. Cyber terrorism is the application that terror organizations use in cyber space as a platform to perform terror attacks.
As an integral part of the strategic collaboration, the two organizations are developing a joint managerial course to learn theoretical-academic fundamentals. The program will be taught by the experts of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the IDC Herzliya. As part of the joint study program, students will attempt to confront practically the cyber terrorism phenomenon with the IEC Cyber Gym trainers at the company’s installation in Heftziba, near Hadera.
General (Res.) Yiftach Ron-Tal, IEC Chairman of the Board of Directors:
“I welcome the collaboration between Academia, the IDC Herzliya and IEC. I attach great importance to training future generations to confront security challenges and as a general in the reserves, that has led ground troups, I can testify that our army is the strongest in the world in all that involves the familiar training field. And as Chairman of the Board of the IEC, I can testify to the abilities we are developing in the field of cybernetics which also place us in the forefront of this sophisticated and complex arena. The IEC is, no doubt, one of the better companies in the country and in the world with the best professionals, skilled to learn and to teach. We are prepared 24/7 to provide a response to tens of thousands of cyber-attacks. The unique arena we built, Cyber Gym, is the best school in the world in which to study. Collaboration with the IDC Herzliya will develop a new generation of fighters in the cybernetic field to fight a war that already faces challenges identical to missile attacks that Israel is already familiar with in the past.”
“Nasrallah and Grad missiles are out, Cyber is in. The world, the State of Israel and the electricity sector are in an era where cybernetic threats on communication infrastructures are ever increasing. There are hundreds of thousands penetrating attempts on IEC’s systems daily: threats at national and electricity sector levels. With national and leading technological responsibility in mind, we built an operations room to deal with monitoring, spotting, and neutralizing penetration into communication systems and we erected an innovative training arena, Cyber Gym, to train and instruct infrastructure companies and students of cyber-defense – this is a challenge among challenges in regards to security. The IEC deals with hundreds of thousand Internet events a month, in all types of activities taking place in the organization’s systems. The events are investigated with advanced analytical tools. There is no doubt that this is a significant present and future fighting arena and cooperation with the ICT at the IDC Herzliya will assist and provide tools for countries and organizations to defend against cyber-attacks”.
Prof. Uriel Reichman, President and Founder of the IDC Herzliya:
“The Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the IDC has focused, in the past few years, on understanding 21st Century challenges and threats in cyber space, to lead to effective confrontation against the means of operation of terror organizations in this space. This confrontation is performed by establishing think tanks and teaching interdisciplinary courses integrating computer, law, and government studies. These courses are based on the expertise accumulated by the ICT that has been a center of excellence in confronting local and global terrorism for the past 18 years. In the 20 years since it was founded, the IDC and its research institutions continue to contribute and to assist the government, public, security, and private sectors to better understand present and future challenges and to prepare efficiently to deal with them”.
The combination of expertise and experience accumulated in the two organizations on cyber terrorism created a joint course, a unique teaching model to establish a base to train managers who are expert in the fields of computers and security, security organizations, students, technological companies and private, public, and government decision-making entities.
At first, the course will be taught in English and will appeal to the international and local audience. In the future, the partners intend to develop war games as an auxiliary tool to evaluate and forecast the behavior of terror organizations in cyber space and as a tool for the improvement of policies to confront this phenomenon.
The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the IDC Herzliya has been granted international recognition as a center of academic excellence for research of the terror phenomenon and for professional training to confront this phenomenon. In the past few years, among other things, it has focused on the research of cyber terrorism. As part of this, the Institute has established a study course for managers, held during the summer months, dealing with different aspects of the use of cyber space by terror organizations.
This interdisciplinary program integrates studies in the field of computer sciences, law, and security and government studies, and examines, among other things, the use of the Internet by terror organizations to provoke and indoctrinate, to raise funds and activists, to train terrorists, to pass operational orders, and be used as a platform to perform a variety of terrorist attacks on Internet websites of enemy countries, to attack information banks, economic attacks, computer espionage, to attack civilian installations, military installations, and critical installations.
The Institute issues a periodical report that follows Jihadist forums regarding cyber terrorism, holds conferences and seminars on the subject, and forms policies for government confrontation with the cyber terrorism threat.
IEC’s Cyber Gym is a training arena, unique and the first of its kind to train “cyber fighters”, learning and practicing “cyber defense” for strategic and national companies, in the infrastructure and energy fields in Israeli and international markets, such as: airports, railways, highway and road systems, power stations, water installations, energy facilities, and so forth.
The facility is unique in that it is not a regular simulator, but trains the monitoring/controlling team to experience and react in real-time to the consequences of a cyber-attack in sensitive infrastructure installations. To practice an actual event, the best hackers in Israel and the world are employed in the Cyber Gym facility.
The facility is divided into three sections. Each arena/group has its own color: the attack arena – the red group (hackers), the defense arena – the blue group (the good guys), and the control arena – the white group (crisis management). In each such arena, the groups practice different scenarios while conducting a real-time imaginary attack.
Above and beyond the practice of experts, who are skilled and experienced in the field, the arena has among the most modern systems and technological tools in the world. The planning, control and monitoring systems can tailor-make the training arena to the requirements and characteristics of the organization.
Organizations are dependent on stability, security, and a quiet cyber environment to produce, communicate, and operate industrial processes as well as perform commercial activity. These systems are complex and difficult to defend. Cyber-attacks penetrate the computers and networks and cause significant damage to organizations, such as exposure of confidential and sensitive information, interruption of operational processes, and even damage to public health and security. To protect against unseen attacks and threats such as these, defense expertise and techniques are required. Cyber defense requires team work, a common language, an understanding of the “attacker’s mind”, and training and practice the moment the threat becomes real.
This is precisely the challenge and response that Cyber Gym provides.