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‘Mega Terror Attacks’ Possible Through Cyber, Says Former Israeli Intel Chief

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Rapid advances in the cyber realm have opened up the possibility for “mega terror attacks,” according to a former Israeli intelligence chief.

Terrorists would have a hard time obtaining a nuclear bomb, but a major cyber attack could be “relatively simple,” Yuval Diskin, former director of Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service (also known as Shabak), warned reporters during a briefing last Tuesday at Tel Aviv University’s Cyber Week conference. He noted that, while terrorists will likely continue their traditional tactics, cyber opens up a “new field of attacks.”

“I think that you will have terrorists that carry out attacks inside the state by using people and guns and other things, and there will be guys more sophisticated, or more technical guys that will try to take down an airplane by attacking it,” said Diskin, who now serves as chairman of CyMotive Technologies, an auto industry cyber security firm. “And this is something that I am really worried about … because I think it is already possible, these kinds of attacks are already possible.”

Thus far, major terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida have used the cyber realm more as a recruiting tool than a weapon. The internet and social media have remained primary recruiting grounds for jihadists across the globe for nearly two decades, but there is also room for offensive measures.

Former Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin speaks to reporters at Tel Aviv University. Photo Credit: Russ Read

While such an attack hasn’t yet happened, Diskin believes that it will only take someone with the interest, capability and opportunity.

“It will happen, I promise you, I’m sorry to promise you, it is going to happen,” said Diskin.

Other security officials have also warned of the potential for cyber terrorism. Former FBI agent Andre McGregor, who specializes in cyber crime, warned attendees at the RSA 2016 conference that terror groups could target a nation’s critical infrastructure in an attempt to sow chaos, according to Security Week.

When asked to elaborate on what a “mega terror attack” would look like, Diskin demurred.

“I don’t want to give ideas to the bad guys … I have a very creative mind,” said the former Shin Bet chief, adding that he could give an example of how to engage in a chaotic terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in just two hours.

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