Israeli companies urged to step up cybersecurity after Natanz attack

In the wake of the explosions at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, widely attributed to Israel, a retaliation is likely to take the form of a cyberattack, security experts say.

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The mystery behind a string of electrical explosions which shut down a highly protected Iranian nuclear enrichment site has yet to fully lift, as international security experts analyse how the act of sabotage widely attributed to Israel was committed.

Regardless of the method behind the explosion or precisely who was responsible, Israeli experts say that companies and government agencies need to realize that they could be the target of an Iranian retaliatory cyberattack, and ensure they are following best practices for security.

The strike at Natanz is seen as part of a larger ongoing shadow war between the countries that has included cyberattacks — like the destruction of  Iranian centrifuges more than a decade ago by the U.S.-Israel developed malware, Stuxnet — as well as covert strikes on marine shipping, and drive-by shootings. The covert, low profile attacks have allowed Iran and Israel to deliver a blow while maintaining a veneer of deniability that relieves pressure on the other side to escalate into an all-out war.    

"Cyberattack warfare capabilities enable countries to operate beneath a certain threshold and minimize unwanted escalation chances," said Dr. Gil Baram, head of the Cyber & Space research group at the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security at Tel Aviv University. "So as in previous rounds of escalation between Israel and Iran has shown us, Iran will probably use its cyberattack capabilities to try and harm Israeli companies and critical infrastructures, as it tried to do last year against parts of Israel's water network."

A history of cyberattacks

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