Gantz Elad Malka

The Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah planned a cyber attack on the United Nations force which monitors the Israeli-Lebanese border, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed Wednesday.

Speaking Wednesday morning at the Cyber Week Conference hosted by Tel Aviv University, Gantz said Tehran has expanded the scope of its cyber war against Israel, enlisting proxy groups, like the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

“Iran operates via proxies such as Hezbollah in all dimensions – including cyber. Today I can reveal recent malign activities conducted by Iranian security institutions in cooperation with Hezbollah: an attempt to disrupt UNIFIL operations in Lebanon. They launched a cyber operation with the aim of stealing materials about UNIFIL activities and deployment in the area, for Hezbollah’s use. This is yet another direct attack by Iran and Hezbollah on Lebanese citizens and on Lebanon’s stability.”

Gantz vowed that Israel would respond to any and every attack on Israeli targets, dubbing Iranian hackers “terrorists with keyboards”.

“It is important to emphasize that Israel knows the cyber systems and operation methods of its opponents. Within this context, in recent years we have identified a phenomenon of Iranian hacker groups operating against Israel and other countries in the region and the world.”

“These new proxies are “terrorists with keyboards,” yet they are just like any other terrorist. We know who they are, we target them and those who direct them. They are in our sights as we speak – and not just in the cyber space. Not a single attack on Israel’s citizens will go by silently.”

“The responsibility for such attacks lies with the countries and terror groups that fund and guide them. There is a variety of possible responses to cyber-attacks - in and outside of the cyber domain.”

“The leader of global, conventional terrorism is Iran. This is also true for “cyber terrorism”. Iran threatens to damage global infrastructure, it aims to spread fear, and it even attempts to influence democratic processes and governments.”

Gantz claimed that Iran has massively ratcheted up its cyber campaign, with more than a thousand cyber attacks on Israeli targets each year, along with efforts targeting other countries, including attempts to influence US presidential elections.

“This was the case when Iran attempted to influence the U.S. presidential election, and this was also true in many additional cases that Israel is aware of. Most recently, we have seen reports that Iranian terror groups led by the Revolutionary Guards, have tried to carry out operations against international targets, including charities and government networks in the United States.”

“A decade ago, Israel dealt with several significant cyber-attacks. Today we face over a thousand attacks per year. In recent years, we have stopped many attempts to break into private and public companies, as well as Israeli companies based around the world. Today, every company, every individual, must take responsibility in protecting its customers, its own assets, and the security of the State of Israel.”