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Israeli Cyber Expert: Hackers, Not Suicide Bombers, Will Cause Next 9/11

The next 9/11-style terror attack will be perpetrated by hackers infiltrating an air traffic control system or other critical infrastructure, according to Col. (res.) Dr. Gabi Siboni, director of the Cyber Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). The Times of Israel reported  on Siboni’s assessment Wednesday.

“Computer hackers have begun targeting electric and nuclear power plants and other critical operations around the world in audacious and continuous efforts to take control of them.” …

“The next 9/11 will happen without suicide bombers aboard the plane with box-cutters but will occur because of a cyber incident perpetrated by a terror organization,” he said.

“Cyber aggression is widely utilized and has become a basic weapon used in international conflicts. Countries are responsible for attacks on most national infrastructure, and governments across the Western world have understood that they must allocate resources not only to purchase new tanks and aerial defense systems but also in defensive cyber infrastructure,” he added.

Siboni offered his assessment in advance of an American-Israel cybersecurity conference scheduled to take place later this month in Washington D.C. Siboni called on the United States and Israel to increase their cooperation in order to counter this threat.

Last year saw major multinational corporations investing in Israel’s growing cyber-security hub. This past October  The Washington Post reported that Israel had become the number two exporter of cyber products and was becoming a “cybersecurity superpower.” In February, The New York Times reported that the United States was increasingly turning to allies Britain and Israel to counter the cyber threats emanating from Iran.

Illustrating how “[c]yber aggression” has become a weapon utilized in conflicts, Claudia Rosett wrote in How Iran and North Korea Became Cyber-Terror Buddies, which was published in the January 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine:

The Sony hack has monopolized media attention over the past month, and finally aroused public concern over the cyber-warfare capabilities of rogue states like North Korea. There are signs of Iranian involvement in the attack, but no conclusive evidence. There is conclusive evidence, however, of far-ranging collaboration between North Korea and Iran on cyber-warfare and numerous other forms of military technology.

These go far beyond the realm of cyberspace. They include such devastating conventional weapons as ballistic missiles and—most importantly—the development of nuclear technology and nuclear weapons. Clearly, the relationship between these two rogue totalitarian states represents a clear and present danger to the entire free world.

The really important question, then, is not precisely who hacked Sony’s computer network. It is what we might see if the administration rolled back the curtain and showed us whatever it knows about the full extent of North Korea’s rogue ventures, especially its long-standing romance with Iran.

[Photo: iloque / Flickr ]