The frequency of cyberattacks against Israel's critical infrastructure has reportedly spiked over the last four years, with one expert now claiming the country is experiencing up to two million hacking attempts every day.
Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, director of the cyber research centre located at the Tel Aviv University (TAU) made the comments ahead of the annual International Cybersecurity Conference at TAU, set to take place this month (19-23 June 2016).
In an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he said: "We discover between 200,000 and two million hacking attempts every day in Israel on critical infrastructure such as water, electricity and railroads, but they are well-protected." He added the number of cyberattacks has grown from "hundreds of thousands a day" in 2012.
"In the last two years, we've learned how to identify hackers by their country of origin, by terror and criminal organisations or intelligence agencies and the level of threat. We can also identify their targets." The professor said that "in a few cases" hackers had obtained sensitive information but maintained that no serious disruption or damage has yet been caused by such incidents.
The attention on national critical infrastructure attacks has spiked over the past year as nation-state government have become embroiled in hacking activity. In one of the most extreme cases, Russia was accused of disrupting a power grid in Ukraine – which many experts considered to be the first widespread case of a cyber-offensive being launched against major infrastructure.
In January, Israel faced its own infrastructure attack after its Electric Authority was targeted by a 'severe' ransomware infection. "[The attack] is a fresh example of the sensitivity of infrastructure to cyberattacks, and the importance of preparing ourselves in order to defend ourselves against such attacks," said the country's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz at the time.
He continued: Cyberattacks on infrastructure can paralyse power stations and the whole energy supply chain from natural gas, oil and petrol to water systems and can additionally cause fatalities. We need cyber tech to prevent such attacks."
Israel has long been considered a hub of technological and cyber innovation. In 2015, the country exported $6bn (£425bn, €537bn) in cyber-related products and, according to Israel's National Cyber Bureau, it is responsible for roughly 10 percent of the estimated $60bn global cyber-market.
In terms of critical infrastructure hacks, Israel is suspected of orchestrating the notorious Stuxnet virus alongside the National Security Agency. While it has denied involvement, the Stuxnet worm, which was let loose inside an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility, is generally considered one of the most extreme cases of nation-state hacking.