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Israel facing increasing number of cyberattacks: PM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem offices, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012. Israel's Cabinet has announced January 22, 2013 as the date for parliamentary elections, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading in the polls. (AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)

JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was facing an increasing number of cyberattacks, just days after Washington issued a veiled warning to Iran over digital attacks on its interests.

"There have been increasing efforts to carry out cyberattacks on Israel's computer infrastructure," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting, without giving details.

"Every day there are many attempts to infiltrate Israel's computer systems. That's why I established the National Cyber Directorate last year, which serves as an electronic 'Iron Dome' against computer terrorism," he added.

He did not specify which systems had come under attack, nor did he say who was behind them.

On Friday, former US official James Lewis told AFP that Washington believed Iran was behind a major cyberattack on Saudi Arabia's state oil company and a Qatari gas firm in August.

According to Lewis, who has worked for the State Department and other government agencies on national security and cyber issues, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued a veiled warning to Tehran that Washington was ready to take preemptive action to protect US computer networks.

At the start of the year, various prominent Israeli websites were hacked, many of which were claimed by Arab hackers. Israeli hackers claimed to have attacked several Iranian websites in retaliation.

Cyberattacks against Iran in recent years have slowed down its nuclear programme, which the United States and Israel believe could be converted to serve military purposes.

 

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