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  • 1. Home Blogs The AxisWhy are Israel and America suddenly speaking so openly about cyberwarfare?The IDF has for the first time officially admitted using cyber warfare, while American officials have also revealed for the firsttime the level of cooperation with Israel in developing and deploying cyber weapons against Irans nuclear program.By Anshel Pfeffer | 16:58 04.06.12 | 1 Tweet 0The IDF Spokesmans website is not usually in the business of breaking stories, so Sundays report on the Operations Department instructionsdefining the roles of cyber warfare in the IDFs operational doctrine was unexpected and intriguing. According to the report,Cyber space is to be handled similarly to other battlefields on ground, at sea, in the air and in space. The IDF has been engaged in cyberactivity consistently and relentlessly, gathering intelligence and defending its own cyber space. Additionally if necessary the cyber space willbe used to execute attacks and intelligence operations.There are many, diverse, operational cyber warfare goals, including thwarting and disrupting enemy projects that attempt to limitoperational freedom of both the IDF and the State of Israel, as well as incorporating cyber warfare activity in completing objectives at allfronts and in every kind of conflict. Moreover, it will be used to maintain Israels quality and advantage over its enemies and prevent theirgrowth and military capabilities, while limiting their operation in this field.Additional goals defined by the document published by the Operations Department include creation of operational conditions that will assist infulfilling IDF capabilities in combat as well as influence public opinion and raise awareness by advocating in the cyber space.Overall cyber space will be used to improve the operational effectiveness of the IDF, both during war and peace time. This will be done throughclandestine activity, while maintaining confidentiality and expertise.There are no actual operational details here, but the fact that the IDF has for the first time officially admitted that it is using cyberspace foroffensive purposes is significant.Do you think cyber warfare will be more prevalent in the future? Visit Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views?It is unthinkable that such a report could have been issued (both on the Hebrew and English IDF websites) without authorization from thehighest military and perhaps also political levels.In previous on-record briefings and interviews, officers and officials have been prepared only to acknowledge work being done to protect vitalcomputer and communications infrastructure and networks from cyber attacks, never to specify attempts to use those same weapons to disruptthe enemies infrastructure and to collect intelligence.The timing is especially interesting, as it comes just a week after Flame, the mega-computer worm spying on Iranian and other Middle Easterncomputer users was revealed. And it comes hot on the heels of the interview last week in which Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, said(regarding such cyber attacks) that "anyone who sees the Iranian threat as a significant threat – its reasonable that he will take various steps,including these, to harm it" and that "Israel is blessed as being a country rich with high-tech, these tools that we take pride in open up all kinds ofopportunities for us."Yaalon a few hours later attempted to scale down his remarks tweeting that "plenty of advanced Western countries, with apparent cyber-warfarecapabilities, view Iran and especially its nuclear program as real threat," but the message got through.This uncharacteristic Israeli openness coincides with a similar development across the Atlantic, where American officials have also revealed forthe first time the level of cooperation with Israel in developing and deploying cyber weapons against Irans nuclear program.Few of the sources in the lengthy New York Times report are named, but for the first time we have reliable details on the way the computer virusknown as Stuxnet, was developed and used in a joint U.S.-Israeli operation to sabotage Irans uranium enrichment project. The cooperationbetween the American National Security Agency and the IDFs Military Intelligence Unit 8200, waging electronic war together on Iran, isprobably the closest the two nations have ever come together in the history of their strategic relations.The timing of the report by David E. Sanger could be coincidental. After all it is an adapted extract from his book “Confront and Conceal:Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” which will bepublished tomorrow in the U.S.But the confluence of all these events, the emergence of Flame - which has been lurking in Iranian computers, unconcealed, for a few years nowand may have been revealed intentionally to spook the Iranians, Yaalons unguarded comments, the IDFs report on its cyber warfare doctrine,and now the detailed statements from senior U.S. officials to Sanger, can hardly be a coincidence. It raises a number of key questions:First, were these revelations part of a coordinated decision between Washington and Jerusalem to momentarily lift the cloak of darkness overtheir joint cyber efforts? Or are organizations and individuals in either country just trying to grab some of the credit for their own purposes?Second, if the openness is intentional, who is all this information aimed at? Is their purpose to create more pressure on Iran, where researchers,officers and ordinary citizens are afraid to use their computers and the leaders have to take into account that further attempts to hide nucleardevelopment are bound to fail? Or is this the Obama Administration trying to convince public opinion in the U.S and Israel and of course theNetanyahu government that the intelligence and electronic war on Iran is sufficient, and that there is no need for military strikes? And are certainelements in Israels security and political establishment helping the Americans do this?Third, is this just an aberration or are we going to see in the near future an acceptance by governments that cyber warfare is an acceptedextension of diplomacy by other means? And how will Iran and other countries targeted in this way respond?