Israeli leader accuses Iran of cyberattacks

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel’s prime minister said Sunday there has been a “significant rise” in cyberattacks on Israel by Iran.

Benjamin Netanyahu told a security conference that Iran, along with its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, are targeting Israel’s “essential systems.” He said the water system, electric grid, trains and banks have all been targeted.

“Every sphere of civilian economic life, let’s not even talk about our security, is a potential or actual cyberattack target,” Netanyahu said. He said the attacks “will continue to intensify as we advance into the digital age.”

Netanyahu gave no further details, and his office refused to elaborate.

Israeli officials have long said that the country is under constant attack by enemies and ideological opponents to shut down vital websites. Most attacks have had little impact.

Shlomi Dolev, a cybersecurity expert at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, said it is logical to assume that Iran is trying to attack Israeli targets. He said Israel is under constant threat, though he could not verify the sources.

“I’m not sure how sophisticated they are. But they of course have some experts,” Dolev said.

Israel considers Iran to be its most dangerous enemy, citing Tehran’s support for Arab militant groups, its years of hostile anti-Israel rhetoric and its suspect nuclear program. Israel, like many Western countries, believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb.

Israel is a world leader in cyber security, thanks in large part to expertise developed in shadowy high-tech units in the military. Israel is widely expected of launching sophisticated computer attacks on its enemies, including a worm that targeted Iran’s nuclear program and caused significant damage.

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