Israel’s security services unleash power of cyber tools to thwart major attacks, as tech experts replace traditional agents in war on terror.

cyber agents
Cyber agents fight terror (Photo: Pixabay)

The Shin Bet security service is becoming a cyber superpower as it radically shifts the focus of its anti-terror efforts. Integrating innovative cyber tools into its arsenal is providing the agency with unprecedented capabilities.

By now, technology specialists make up one-third of Shin Bet’s manpower, The Jerusalem Post reported. Under director Nadav Argaman, the domestic security agency developed new ways to combine big data and open source intelligence tools to achieve “unimaginable” synergies.

The Shin Bet is also increasingly resorting to cyber warfare to carry out offensive strike operations, the report said.

Hundreds of attacks foiled

Cutting-edge technology helped the security services thwart hundreds of serious terror attacks last year, Argman told a 2019 conference. This year, the agency foiled more than 500 potential attacks, many of them by exploiting its powerful cyber tools.

Advanced cyber capabilities are also enabling Israel to fight terrorism abroad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously credited the use of cyber technology in foiling major attacks in dozens of countries.

Domestically, Shin Bet’s cyber power gained huge attention after the agency joined the effort to fight the spread of Corona. The agency used its tracking tools to identify tens of thousands of Israelis exposed to confirmed virus carriers.

Secret Shin Bet cyber course

To boost its tech power, Shin Bet actively recruits civilian experts. However, it also hires and trains strong candidates without prior cyber knowledge. This secretive training program is a key component in changing the organization’s focus and boosting its capabilities.

Cyber recruits must be technologically savvy but come from a variety of fields, Israel Defense reported. The agency hires candidates with math and science backgrounds, but also designers and artists, the report said.

Recruiters are looking for candidates with rich life experience and problem-solving skills, and then put them through an unconventional screening process. “I can ask in an interview, how many cabs are there in Tel Aviv?” the program director said. “I want to see how they approach the problem.”

Are cyber tools too dominant?

However, some security officials also have concerns about the growing dominance of technology. They are worried that Shin Bet is neglecting other areas of the anti-terror fight, such as the use of human assets.

The focus on cyber tools also prompted the organization to divert resources away from more traditional specialties.

But in the foreseeable future, Shin Bet’s work and the war on terror will continue to shift toward cyber capabilities. A look at the agency’s job listings reveals many more tech-oriented jobs than positions in any other field.