Illustration: US Dept. for Homeland Security
Illustration: US Dept. for Homeland SecurityReuters

The threatened #opisrael cyber-attack turned out to be a dud - but Israel does not have enough manpower to ward off a major cyber-attack.

Dr. Michael Orlov, head of the cyber-engineering department of Shamoon College Engineering in Be'er Sheva, explained the problem to Arutz Sheva Monday.

As Orlov explained, the hacking projects against Israel by Anonymous - a loosely organized group of hackers worldwide, but for #opIsrael mostly localized to Middle-Eastern countries - is a childish attempt to "feel important," and nothing more. Currently, cyber-attacks against Israel largely focus on replacing a site's content with propaganda, and leaving a site alone after it is fixed. This, he said, "is not a serious problem." 

Future attacks may be, however. Orlov emphasizes that if a major country - e.g. Iran - were to set aside the "relatively small amount" of $50 million dollars to establish a professional hacking team, Israel could be in trouble.

"We have seen Iran do this in the past to other countries, like Saudi Arabia," Orlov stated, "Hackers attacked, broke into [websites] and deleted information. If this happens, we cannot dismiss the impact of attacks." 

Orlov makes clear that such attacks can cause damage to infrastructure, include industrial espionage and spying. Preventative measures, he said, would need to be tackled on the large scale - by providing government funding to build an anti-cyberattack force. 

Orlov's remarks justify statements by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who named Israel as a "cyber superpower" that is far more advanced than other countries.

He said that Israel is even among the biggest names in internet technology - including the US, Russia, and China - and can rank among them in its ability to launch cyber-attacks and defend itself against them, but that Israel also still needs more experts in the field to prevent that rank from slipping. 

The key, Orlov said, is to model Israel's cyber security after the US model. US intelligence agencies cannot provide entire schools to train experts on cyber security, Orlov said, so it heavily subsidizes special academic programs in technical schools to do so through civilian means.