This is the new iteration of what is referred to generally as ‘electronic warfare’. Cyber attacks can paralyse infrastructure in such a way that an air force’s capabilities can be diminished dramatically.
The fact that every computer, communication system and smartphone can be “touched” by hackers says it all.
This is a war of minds, and you need to be at least one step ahead of the enemy equipped with a keyboard and a lot of “wild” knowledge. The cyber warfront is quiet but very harmful – to the extent that it can win a war or lose one.
Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has been developing EW systems for years – but the traditional ones are not enough. The nature of the “unseen” war has changed. It is not enough anymore to blind a radar system or protect your radar from jamming. The scope of threats has become endless – from a small disruption to a total collapse of air control systems and air base infrastructure.
And it is such a different war that the fighting is also different, and sometimes can be considered “bizarre”.
“Stay one step ahead”. This need brought Elta to hire Israeli hackers to assist in the development of prototype cyber attack and cyber defence systems, according to Esti Peshin, director of the Elta cyber division.
“We’ve discovered that all of Elta’s existing technologies, including advanced radar and sensing systems, are an advantage when it comes to cyber systems development,” she says.
Peshin adds that the cyber division was established in late 2013, but is already considered a leader in the field.
And on this new front, intelligence is the key to victory: “If you look at the solutions we have developed you will notice that the basic tool is one that can detect the first signs of a cyber attack,” she says.
Every system can be hacked, said Peshin, and the question is how quickly can you detect intrusions in order to minimise the damage: “In most cases cyber attacks are being performed along a timespan. That’s why it’s so important to detect them as early on as possible.”
Peshin, for obvious reasons, kept her remarks on a general level, but from what is happening in the world it is clear that this new front is critical for the function of military systems and infrastructure.
Elta is investing its full capability to stay that one step ahead, that in the case of Israel may be critical for the lives of many people.