Entries Tagged "Israel"

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Did Hezbollah Crack Israeli Secure Radio?

According to Newsday:

Hezbollah guerrillas were able to hack into Israeli radio communications during last month’s battles in south Lebanon, an intelligence breakthrough that helped them thwart Israeli tank assaults, according to Hezbollah and Lebanese officials.

Using technology most likely supplied by Iran, special Hezbollah teams monitored the constantly changing radio frequencies of Israeli troops on the ground. That gave guerrillas a picture of Israeli movements, casualty reports and supply routes. It also allowed Hezbollah anti-tank units to more effectively target advancing Israeli armor, according to the officials.

Read the article. Basically, the problem is operational error:

With frequency-hopping and encryption, most radio communications become very difficult to hack. But troops in the battlefield sometimes make mistakes in following secure radio procedures and can give an enemy a way to break into the frequency-hopping patterns. That might have happened during some battles between Israel and Hezbollah, according to the Lebanese official. Hezbollah teams likely also had sophisticated reconnaissance devices that could intercept radio signals even while they were frequency-hopping.

I agree with this comment from The Register:

Claims that Hezbollah fighters were able to use this intelligence to get some intelligence on troop movement and supply routes are plausible, at least to the layman, but ought to be treated with an appropriate degree of caution as they are substantially corroborated by anonymous sources.

But I have even more skepticism. If indeed Hezbollah was able to do this, the last thing they want is for it to appear in the press. But if Hezbollah can’t do this, then a few good disinformation stories are a good thing.

Posted on September 20, 2006 at 2:35 PMView Comments

Press Security Concerns in Lebanon

Problems of reporting from a war zone:

Among broadcasters there is a concern about how our small convoys of cars full of equipment and personnel look from the air. There is a risk Israelis (eyes in the sky: drones, satellites) could mistake them for a Hezbollah convoy headed closer to the border and within striking distance of Israel. So simply being on the road with several vehicles is a risk.

Plus, when we fire up our broadcast signals it is unclear what we look like to Israeli military monitoring stations. If there are a number of broadcasters firing up signals from the same remote place, the hope is that the Israelis would identify it as media signals, and not Hezbollah rocket electronics, and thus avoid being a target.

Posted on July 26, 2006 at 5:56 AM

Patrick Smith on Airline Security

Patrick Smith writes the “Ask the Pilot” column for Salon. He’s written two very good posts on airline security, one about how Israel’s system won’t work in the U.S., and the other about profiling:

…here’s a more useful quiz:

  • In 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up over the Atlantic by:

    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
    b. Bill O’Reilly
    c. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
    d. Indian Sikh extremists, in retaliation for the Indian Army’s attack on the Golden Temple shrine in Amritsar

  • In 1986, who attempted to smuggle three pounds of explosives onto an El Al jetliner bound from London to Tel Aviv?

    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
    b. Michael Smerconish
    c. Bob Mould
    d. A pregnant Irishwoman named Anne Murphy

  • In 1962, in the first-ever successful sabotage of a commercial jet, a Continental Airlines 707 was blown up with dynamite over Missouri by:

    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
    b. Ann Coulter
    c. Henry Rollins
    d. Thomas Doty, a 34-year-old American passenger, as part of an insurance scam

  • In 1994, who nearly succeeded in skyjacking a DC-10 and crashing it into the Federal Express Corp. headquarters?

    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
    b. Michelle Malkin
    c. Charlie Rose
    d. Auburn Calloway, an off-duty FedEx employee and resident of Memphis, Tenn.

  • In 1974, who stormed a Delta Air Lines DC-9 at Baltimore-Washington Airport, intending to crash it into the White House, and shot both pilots?

    a. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40
    b. Joe Scarborough
    c. Spalding Gray
    d. Samuel Byck, an unemployed tire salesman from Philadelphia

The answer, in all cases, is D.

Racial profiling doesn’t work against terrorism, because terrorists don’t fit any racial profile.

Posted on June 19, 2006 at 7:22 AMView Comments

Automobile Identity Theft

This scam was uncovered in Israel:

  1. Thief rents a car.
  2. An identical car, legitimately owned, is found and its “identity” stolen.
  3. The stolen identity is applied to the rented car and is then offered for sale in a newspaper ad.
  4. Innocent buyer purchases the car from the thief as a regular private party sale.
  5. After a few days the thief steals the car back from the buyer and returns it to the rental shop.

What ended up happening is that the “new” owners claimed compensation for the theft and most of the damage was absorbed by the insurers.


Posted on September 21, 2005 at 7:45 AMView Comments

Israeli Barrier Around Gaza

Putting aside geopolitics for a minute (whether I call it a “wall” or a “fence” is a political decision, for example), it’s interesting to read the technical security details about the barrier the Israelis built around Gaza:

Remote control machine guns, robotic jeeps, a double fence, ditches and pillboxes along with digitally-linked commanders are all part of the IDF’s new 60-kilometer layered protection around the Gaza Strip.


The army has set up a large swath of land around the Strip for placing barbed wire coils, an electronic fence, and two patrol roads named Hoovers Alef and Hoovers Bet. There will also be a third patrol road a few hundred meters from the fence. All the land was “purchased” from the border settlements by the Defense Ministry. The army said it would allow farmers to work some of the land if possible.

Besides the barriers, the army has relocated over 50 cement pillboxes from their location inside the Gaza Strip to the new border. Some of these will be equipped with 50-caliber machine guns with laser sights that can be fired from control rooms equipped with monitors and radar along the border.


The IDF is also taking into account that the Palestinians may try to dig tunnels under the fence, but would not elaborate on steps it was taking to thwart such action.

In Beyond Fear pages 207-8, I wrote about the technical details of the Berlin Wall. This is far more sophisticated.

Posted on September 12, 2005 at 11:32 AMView Comments

Major Israeli Computer Espionage Case

This is a fascinating story of computer espionage.

Dozens of leading companies and top private investigators were named yesterday as suspects in a massive industrial espionage investigation that local police have been conducting for the past six months.

The companies suspected of commissioning the espionage, which was carried out by planting Trojan horse software in their competitors’ computers, include the satellite television company Yes, which is suspected of spying on cable television company HOT; cell-phone companies Pelephone and Cellcom, suspected of spying on their mutual rival Partner; and Mayer, which imports Volvos and Hondas to Israel and is suspected of spying on Champion Motors, importer of Audis and Volkswagens. Spy programs were also located in the computers of major companies such as Strauss-Elite, Shekem Electric and the business daily Globes.

Read the whole story; it’s filled with interesting details. To me, the most interesting is that even though the Trojan was installed on computers at dozens of Israel’s top companies, it was discovered only because the Trojan writer also used it to spy after his ex-in-laws.

There’s a lesson here for all computer criminals.

Edited to add: Much more information here.

Posted on May 31, 2005 at 7:17 AMView Comments

Security Notes from All Over: Israeli Airport Security Questioning

In both Secrets and Lies and Beyond Fear, I discuss a key difference between attackers and defenders: the ability to concentrate resources. The defender must defend against all possible attacks, while the attacker can concentrate his forces on one particular avenue of attack. This precept is fundamental to a lot of security, and can be seen very clearly in counterterrorism. A country is in the position of the interior; it must defend itself against all possible terrorist attacks: airplane terrorism, chemical bombs, threats at the ports, threats through the mails, lone lunatics with automatic weapons, assassinations, etc, etc, etc. The terrorist just needs to find one weak spot in the defenses, and exploit that. This concentration versus diffusion of resources is one reason why the defender’s job is so much harder than the attackers.

This same principle guides security questioning at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. In this example, the attacker is the security screener and the defender is the terrorist. (It’s important to remember that “attacker” and “defender” are not moral labels, but tactical ones. Sometimes the defenders are the good guys and the attackers are the bad guys. In this case, the bad guy is trying to defend his cover story against the good guy who is attacking it.)

Security is impressively tight at the airport, and includes a potentially lengthy interview by a trained security screener. The screener asks each passenger questions, trying to determine if he’s a security risk. But instead of asking different questions — where do you live, what do you do for a living, where were you born — the screener asks questions that follow a storyline: “Where are you going? Who do you know there? How did you meet him? What were you doing there?” And so on.

See the ability to concentrate resources? The defender — the terrorist trying to sneak aboard the airplane — needs a cover story sufficiently broad to be able to respond to any line of questioning. So he might memorize the answers to several hundred questions. The attacker — the security screener — could ask questions scattershot, but instead concentrates his questioning along one particular line. The theory is that eventually the defender will reach the end of his memorized story, and that the attacker will then notice the subtle changes in the defender as he starts to make up answers.

Posted on December 14, 2004 at 9:26 AMView Comments

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.