The warning was clear — stay away from Chinese technology or else.
Israel, the beneficiary of billions in annual US military funding, wisely chose to heed the warning.
After the US angrily demanded that Israel act to bar all Chinese-made systems and components in communications and security systems used in sensitive infrastructure, the Shin Bet immediately issued a broad directive to that effect, Breaking Defense reported.
The directive was issued officially by the Israeli Cyber Directorate, but was initiated by the Israeli General Security Service (Shabak, known more commonly in English as Shin Bet), the highest authority on these issues, the report said.
The new directive was based on an evaluation of the risks in using Chinese-made systems for video and audio surveillance, the report said.
Gabi Siboni, cyber and strategy expert at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told Breaking Defense that, “Washington is furious at the lack of safeguards in Israel against Chinese cyber activities. The steps that have been taken are still on a voluntary basis and are not enough. That will not satisfy the Americans.”
This comes as, last Thursday, the US added to charges against the prominent Chinese telecom firm, Huawei, accusing it of a “decades-long” plan to steal technology from US firms. An allegation Huawei staunchly denies.
The danger, according to experts here in Israel, is double-penetration by the Chinese into Israeli major infrastructure as well as into defense systems that have been developed in cooperation between Israel and the US, the report said.
The directive applies to the use of communications components, security cameras and their control boxes, Wi–Fi systems and other peripheral items used in computer networks.
The Israeli security organizations are very concerned about Chinese involvement, especially at two strategic sites where the sensitivity is particularly high, the report said.
One is control of the red-line communication of the light train here in Tel Aviv, which passes close to “Kirya,” a central site of the Defense Ministry, IDF headquarters and the IAF high command, the report said.
There are practical reasons for this action. Last year, for example, there were reports that Chinese hackers stole the data of Israel’s missile interception system known as Iron Dome, the report said.
Attacks on Israel’s private sector are no less alarming. According to recent reports, Chinese companies have deeply penetrated the Israeli cellular and security markets.
Government officials and private sector experts estimate that Chinese investment in Israel has reached US$11.7 billion over the years, including one of Israel’s largest dairy products companies.