The IDF has one of the most advanced cyber-war units in the world, Unit 8200. It was responsible for devising the FLAME and Stuxnet viruses which devastated the centrifuges running at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility.
Foreign media, including the Guardian here, Financial Times here, and Geekwire here, regularly run breathless thinly-disguised promotions for the “amazing” technological advances the Unit devises. It’s heralded as the epitome of the “Start-Up Nation.” You’ll hear about the wonderful apps, products and devices devised, and the billionaires 8200 has helped mint.
But you won’t hear much about the Unit’s sleazier activity, some of the sleaziest Israeli intelligence has ever mounted. You won’t hear that it is the technological/intelligence backbone of Occupation. In fact, forty of its veterans were so disgusted that they publicly rebuked the IDF for 8200’s tactics and announced they would no longer condone such blackmail and other underhanded activities designed to extort Palestinians into informing and spying on their fellow-Palestinians. The chief of Unit 8200, who I identified here, in violation of Israeli censorship, told them that their services would no longer be needed, as they’d violated the bond of the Band of Brothers, whose patriotic mission was to spy on Palestinians and Israel’s enemies everywhere.
The Mossad has been largely left out in the cold regarding cyber-warfare capabilities. Like the CIA, which works closely with the NSA, Unit 8200 offers its intelligence capabilities to the IDF Aman intelligence service and other forces like the Mossad and Shabak. Apparently, the IDF SIGINT division has garnered so much attention and headlines, that Mossad feels it’s missing out on the good PR and headlines.
Today, several Israeli newspapers ran ads promoting the Mossad initiative, which you see displayed here. I’ve also displayed the specific job listings the ad refers to:
Cyber-Operations Expert: comprehensive technological oversight of complex cyber projects in a youthful, dynamic environment.
What’s especially interesting is that it’s not only recruiting adults, it’s recruiting “students.” I assume this refers to university students studying for their computer engineering degrees. But for all we know they may be taking high school students as well. There are nearly ten high schools funded in part by the military and intelligence services which train children for specific future roles in the military. So this notion is not at all far-fetched.