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Iran's Hacking Ability Improving -Israeli General

An undated photo showing Revolutionary Guards' "cyber army" center.

(Reuters) - The Israeli military faces thousands of cyber attacks a day and many are orchestrated by Iran whose hacking capabilities are improving, the Israeli general in charge of network security said.

Major General Nadav Padan, who heads the military's command, control, computer, communications and intelligence (C4I) plus cyber division, told a Reuters Summit that Iran has mounted attacks on Israel with the help of proxies like Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah.

"They are not the state of the art, they are not the strongest superpower in the cyber dimension, but they are getting better and better," Padan said.

Israel and Iran, enemies in the open, have taken to the cyber world to engage in secretive battles. Israel for its part is widely believed to have collaborated with U.S. intelligence in creating the Stuxnet malware that disrupted Iranian networks in 2010.

Padan said his responsibilities did not include offensive cyber tactics. Iran has been carrying out thousands of daily cyber attacks on Israel, Padan said. "As far as we know, nobody has been able to penetrate our operational systems," he said at the Summit, held at the Reuters office in Tel Aviv.

Iran rarely responds to accusations from Israel and in the past has not commented on recent Western allegations about its cyber-hacking.

A report published last month by security firm FireEye said that hackers likely linked to Iran's government are behind attacks on Saudi and other Western aerospace and petrochemical firms, signaling a rise in Iranian cyber-spying prowess.

And earlier this month, President Donald Trump accused Iran of cyberattacks against U.S. "critical infrastructure, financial system, and military", according to an NPR-provided transcript of a his speech.

Israel's goal, Padan said, was to maintain "superiority" in the field, which provides flexibility. "Sometimes when I see an Iranian tool, for example, I can just observe it, control it and try to figure out its meaning. And other times I act very aggressively to block it," he said. For more Reuters cyber news, go to Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits