Towards an IDF Cyber Arm?

Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, Head of the IDF C4I Directorate, announced at the 4th International C5I Conference that "we are Building the C4I Directorate as a Command Center for the Employment of the IDF Cyber Force"

Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan (Photo: Meir Azulay)

Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, Head of the IDF C4I Directorate, announced at the 4th International C5I Conference that the IDF C4I Directorate is in the process of establishing a command center for the employment of the IDF cyber force, and an officer has been appointed to head the new Intelligence Department within the C4I Directorate, charged with providing services to the IDF Intelligence Directorate. Are these General Padan's de-facto preparations for the establishment of an IDF Cyber Arm?

"The IDF C4I Directorate has evolved from a coordinating/connecting element to an element that leads and conducts operations," said Maj. Gen. Padan, Head of the IDF C4I Directorate at the 4th International C5I Conference. "It is not our intention to engage in intimidation or to attempt to say that cybernetics are the new kinetics, but merely to say that this is a new dimension that expands the existing dimensions. We should identify the potential of cyberspace and see where it is going. Since the 'Network IDF' program, another, different revolution has been under way. The human element does not wait for the technology. Technology is waiting for the human element to assimilate it. My personal challenge is to minimize the gap between the technology and the ability to assimilate it.

"The IDF Staff & Command College and the National Security Council (NSC) conduct a week-long cybersecurity seminar. It is an important process for the people. It was not like that in the past. An effort is also being made to make the technology more accessible to the operational warfighter. Only the things he actually needs should be made accessible to him. In some of the systems, dozens of processes can take place but no one does anything with them. You come to a C3 system and realize that the battalion commander only utilizes 40% of its capabilities. It happens because during the development process, they wanted to include more features that no one actually uses. Everything must be kept simple.

"We have divided the C4I activity into three elements: C4I infrastructures, operational occurrences (NCW = Network-Centric Warfare) and malicious occurrences, including cyber warfare. These are the Directorate's dimensions," explains Maj. Gen. Padan.

"We realized that the system is becoming highly centralized. It is the most important force multiplier in the IDF. It is a facilitating master capability in the context of the Gideon Long-Term Plan. No other IDF capability was defined as such. The fire loop cycle can no longer operate with target chits. The digital dimension has no alternative in the worlds of the past. That is our primary advantage. Such a capability requires redundancy and security with the objective being the continuity of the operational activity."

"We are currently building our cybersecurity capability. The C4I Directorate currently has an Intelligence Department that provides services to the other arms and branches, including the Intelligence Directorate. The Challenge of the C4I Directorate and the security it requires cannot remain in passive or reactive areas. You cannot erect a fence around the web and think that everything is OK. A permanent secure field is the easiest thing to defend. A fixed fence and a fixed watchtower located at fixed points are the easiest to penetrate. If the fence and tower are dynamic, they will make life much more complicated for the attacker.

"We need proactive security. This is a very profound conceptual change. Today we have a security concept, security tools and elements that must be active all the time. We are making our first steps in this world. We are doing everything within carefully measured spaces. The extent of our activity and confidentiality – we should expand it as much as possible.

"In conclusion, the three primary vectors of the IDF C4I Directorate are: Network IDF – a common combined-arms space. The cloud computing worlds. Portfolios have been submitted in the context of a primary contractor tender. Another vector concerns the implementation of security capabilities within the Cybersecurity Division and the entire IDF.

"We are establishing within the C4I Directorate a command post for the employment of the IDF cyber force. To intervene in operational processes through the C2 elements. Traditionally, other elements were involved in these places. It is not simple, but that is the challenge."

"Every new system coming out of the factory must include a cyber control element – a cybernetic control. No system may be developed without considering cybersecurity for the system. The idea is not to add security patches later on, but to create a system that includes cybersecurity from the outset." These things were said by Oren Barat, Head of the Cyber Administration at IMI Systems, in a lecture at the C5I Conference.

Autonomous Networks

"Anyone stealing a doctoral degree or money from the bank through cyberspace – that would be a problem for the original owners of the degree and the money. But if a cyber attacker managed to divert a missile off course or disrupt a connectivity/interoperability network of autonomous vehicles, or set the gas cylinders of a hospital on fire – these would be attempts to disrupt normal life, and for this reason we need to prepare for cybersecurity." IMI Systems developed a solution presented at the exhibition accompanying the C5I Conference at the IDF Armored Corps Memorial: a decision-making box. It is a part of the system, and any command passing through the system will be examined by the wisdom contained in the box in an attempt to detect cyberattacks. In this way, the box protects the system against cyber events.

Aviram Zrahia, cybersecurity technology consultant at Juniper Networks, spoke along the same lines about the transition to autonomous computer networks, capable of responding to cyber events independently. "Computer networks are going in that direction," said Zrahia, "The system responds automatically to cyber events, thereby defending itself." Juniper Networks promotes the transition to autonomous networks, and the solution is to convert the entire network infrastructure into a single entity engaged in cybersecurity. These systems utilize cloud computing services and artificial intelligence, which is the factor that would lead, in a few years' time, to the development of autonomous computer networks. Artificial intelligence is the key. Zrahia: "At some point, computers will be smarter than humans. We do not know when it will happen and what exactly will happen, so it is intriguing and intimidating, but we are advancing in that direction."

A panel hosted by Amir Rapaport, Editor-in-Chief of Israel Defense, included three senior C5I specialists: Col. (res.) Assaf Shefi, former Head of Communications in the IDF Navy; Brig. Gen. (res.) Asher Wallach, Formerly the National Security Coordinator of the IDF Ground Arm, and Col. (res.) Boaz Kavina, former Head of the C4I Directorate's Weapons Development Department.

Assaf Shefi said that the exchange of information between a submarine at sea and its command center is a critical matter, and that today it is accomplished very promptly, which has been demonstrated in operations.

Asher Wallach admitted that in the evolution of the assimilation of combined-arms connectivity and interoperability, there is a gap between the vision and reality, but some of the objectives have been accomplished and the IDF is making progress. Connectivity/interoperability is a critical operational need, but it is not at all certain that everything and everyone must be interconnected, and these processes take time when sizable organizations are involved.

Boaz Kavina: "Tactical connectivity and interoperability have been accomplished to a considerable extent. There is a vision for the more distant future to which we currently aspire. There are culture and language differences but we are making progress. During Operation Protective Edge we already saw some progress of the Network IDF effort."


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