IDF cyber defense cadets. (Cpl. Eden Briand/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

As Iran’s technological capabilities improve, the Israeli military warns of the looming dangers posed by the Islamic Republic’s agents in cyberspace.

Major General Nadav Padan is the head of Israel’s military command, control, computer, communications and intelligence (C4I) plus cyber division. As such, he runs one of the most crucial forces in the IDF, one that works 24/7 to defend the country from all attacks through cyberspace.

At the Reuters Cyber Security Summit held in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Padan stated outright that the IDF faces thousands of cyber attacks a day, many of which are orchestrated by Iran, with the help of proxies like the terrorist organization, Hezbollah.

Just five or six years ago, many of the attacks against IDF servers, and Israeli networks in general, were DDOS (denial of service) attacks, where hackers try by sheer quantity of Internet connections to slow or halt operations on systems. Another common tactic was phishing — deceitful attempts to obtain personal information. The threats today are much more sophisticated.

“They are not the state-of-the-art, they are not the strongest superpower in the cyber dimension, but they are getting better and better,” Padan said.

On the other hand, he also said that “Nobody has been able to penetrate our operational systems,” although he did qualify the statement with the words, “as far as we know.”

The C4I division was established in 2015, with the goal of bringing all units dealing with cyber threats under one roof, with a single command structure. It protects systems that control everything, from communications to Iron Dome rockets, all of which communicate with servers that remain hackers’ targets.

This would seem to point to C4I being essentially defensive in nature, and Padan said his responsibilities did not include offensive cyber tactics. However, it is commonly accepted that Israel, working secretly with the United States, developed the Stuxnet virus in 2010 that targeted machines controlling centrifuges in Iran that were being used to enrich uranium for Iran’s nuclear program.