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At 20:30 hours the national power grid goes down. Houses go dark and looters start breaking into stores all over Israel. “Terrorists have taken over the Electric Corporation. Chaos in Israel,” claims the news anchor. Later on the trains stop, airport control breaks down and terrorists get access to a submarine carrying nuclear missiles.
These scenarios were presented during the first IDF cyber tournament held recently in the southern city of Be’er Sheva.
300 soldiers from various IDF units, high school students and college students competed for the title of Cyber Knight. The contenders were divided into 40 groups and spend their time trying to block various cyber attacks targeting Israeli networks. “This was a sports competition for computer fans,” said one of the organizers.
The attacks themselves were meticulously planned by cyber experts and included malfunctions in critical infrastructure systems, public transportation and military networks. First place eventually went to research assistants from the local Sami Shimon college.
The tournament was the highlight of the Cyber Knight – Body of Knowledge conference, Minister of Strategic Affairs Dr. Yuval Steinitz in attendance. According to Minister Steinitz the cyber arena might host the next war. “The cyber world is still in its infancy and no one knows how future cyber wars will look like. In order to succeed we have to find the proper way to combine our defensive array and our capability to move forward and develop adaptable systems that can deal with the changes in the industry,” said Steinitz.
During the conference the IDF described the contribution of the military system to the civilian cyber world. “The IDF is directly and indirectly responsible for the cyber personnel active in the market. We train 200 programmers every year who serve in the C4I branch and reach the market four to six years later with plenty of experience,” this according to an IDF representative.