A serious and shameful failure

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By Arie Egozi

The indictment against a computer expert of the Islamic Jihad suggests a serious failure and complacency of the IDF and national bodies in regards to protecting operational and critical national infrastructures from various cyber attacks.

A Palestinian Islamic Jihad cyber expert is being charged with penetrating the IDF UAV systems. Majed Uida, 23, resident of the Gaza strip and an electric and computer engineer who was used as the computer expert for the organization, is being charged with committing a series of serious felonies against national security, including: spying, being in contact with an outside agent, membership and activity in an unauthorized organization, offering information to the enemy with the intent of harming national security, and more.

The indictment against him was served to the Be’er Sheva court and suggests that Uida joined the Islamic Jihad in 2011, where he first worked as an announced and sound technician for a radio belonging to the student union of the organization.

As part of his activity, he build a software with which, starting from 2012, the organization managed to detect Israeli UAV communications above the Gaza strip to the Israeli security forces. Uida used a frequency reader, a satellite dish, and a laptop from the US smuggled through tunnels into Gaza. The product he developed allowed to see in real-time the transmission the Israeli UAV sees over the Gaza strip, how the UAV collects intelligence about terror activists and missiles storage in the strip. It also allowed to detect the exact location of the UAV.

Uida is also claimed to have developed a software allowing seniors in the organization to watch every road camera and the police’s traffic division cameras, to keep track of population concentrations and the location of the security forces while launching missiles into Israel during times of war. The indictment states how the defendant penetrated the Israeli police website, checked the connections to road cameras live while using Website Hacking software.

Uida also developed a software allowing the Islamic Jihad to track movement of planes in Ben Gurion national airport, to watch passengers lists, and see details about the planes such as its type, weight, landing and take-off hours and more.

Uida was arrested exactly one month ago, while leaving Gaza to meet of young Palestinian candidates for a singing talent show, being the chairman of the Palestinian talent club. He was investigated by the General Security Service and the police’s Hostile Destructive Activity squad.

I’ve previously mentioned failures occurring in the field of cybersecurity of critical systems in Israel. “There is a lot of talking in Israel, but very little is being done,” a cyber expert told me yesterday. According to him, in recent years, there have been bodies established to address this issue. “Jobs were handed out and there are titles, but now this indictment reveals a very big failure which I hope has been taken care of.”

For a long time now, many have alerted that Israeli national infrastructures are not immune to cyber attacks.