The same day I wrote my blog post US potentially looking to establish a cyber army national reserve, I stumbled across another article in the Telegraph: Israel invests millions in drive for elite cyber warriors. But unlike the US national reserve cyber version, the Israeli version is more about fighting on offense than trying to establish a defense.
From the article:
The Jewish state is facing a dire shortage of "cyber-combat troops" and is scouring the Jewish Diaspora for exceptional, teenage computer minds to recruit to its cyber unit Intelligence Corps Unit 8200, a leading Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.
"It has become clear that the demand for soldiers in this field is growing, which is why we’re searching for solutions not only in Israel but abroad as well," a top officer in the Manpower Directorate told the Yedioth Aranoth.
The Israeli military has made cyber warfare a dominant priority as it looks ahead to the next five years. Military Intelligence Chief Major General Aviv Kochavi is reported to have allocated £320 million to his cyber programme.
"Cyber readiness is one of the new pillars in our plan, including both defence and offence," Major General Isaac Ben Israel confirmed. However, he described any suggestion that Israel is scouting abroad for cyber-warriors as "far fetched", pointing out that the army has the pick of every Israeli 18 year-old obligated to three years military service.
The way I read it is that they are looking for Israeli nationals so any regular ham-and-egger can’t just join up. However, scouting abroad is not “far-fetched”. There aren’t enough people with the advanced skills that they are looking for within the state of Israel. People may be able to turn on a computer, create a Word document and navigate the Internet but that’s a far cry from the abilities that a cyber army needs.
The people with advanced hacking skills are what they need and there aren’t that many people around in general, let alone a country with only 8 million people.
Hacking skills are what they’re looking for, right?
Major General Ben Israel is Israel’s leading cyber warfare expert, widely acknowledged to be the architect of the air strike that decimated a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007. The attack was possible only because Syrian air defence systems were hacked and disabled minutes before.
There were reports of a similar communications blackout in Khartoum shortly before the explosion at the Sudanese arms factory last month.
Advanced cyber hacking is an emerging field. Computer geeks with these types of abilities should have an easy time getting into the military because there is a growing demand for them.