As Israeli elections approach, the country’s cyber-security watchdogs are warning about attempts by foreign actors to disrupt and manipulate this essential democratic process. The issue came to the fore earlier in January, when the head of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency, Nadav Argaman, reportedly told a closed-door conference that a “foreign state is planning to intervene in the elections. I don’t know at this stage in favor of whom or at whose detriment,” the intelligence chief said, adding, “I know what I’m talking about.” Thought Argaman did not mention it by name, Russia responded days later through a Kremlin spokesman, who stated that Moscow does not intervene in the elections of other countries and even advised others to refrain “from reading the Israeli media.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s intelligence community, together with the Foreign Ministry, the National Cyber Directorate and private cyber-defense firms, are all preparing to track and repel any attempts at foreign intervention.
But the way in which state agencies have worked until now needs to change in some important ways, according to Eli Bachar, a former legal adviser to the Shin Bet. He recently completed an in-depth study with his colleague, Ron Shamir, former head of the Technological Branch of the Shin Bet.