December 21, 2022 | Policy Brief

U.S.-Israel Cyber Exercise Is a Successful Model to Build Upon

December 21, 2022 | Policy Brief

U.S.-Israel Cyber Exercise Is a Successful Model to Build Upon

The United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) partnered with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Joint Cyber Defense Division earlier this month to conduct a five-day cyber defense simulation aimed at fostering interoperability in the face of real-world threats. This exercise is one of the most recent capacity-building efforts the United States has conducted to bolster American partners and allies in the face of growing cyber threats.

The exercise, named Cyber Dome VII, brought U.S. and Israeli cyber forces together at the Georgia Cyber Center on December 4-9. American and Israeli servicemen and servicewomen teamed up during complex, realistic scenarios simulating nation-state level threats. This exercise involved full-spectrum training, including reacting to kinetic and cyber operations, to give both U.S. and Israeli teams experience in collaboration and partnerships to overcome potential real-world challenges.

This exercise comes at a time when Israel has faced numerous cyberattacks attributed to foreign actors, with the IDF reporting that it has seen a 70 percent increase in cyberattacks from Iran alone over the past year. Tehran’s malicious cyber activities have become more concerning in recent years, with headline-grabbing attacks on critical infrastructure, including an attempt to disrupt Israel’s national water system in 2020.

Against the backdrop of an increase in cyberattacks around the world, America has worked with international partners to bolster their cyber defense capabilities. In addition to the joint exercises like Cyber Dome VII with partners like Israel that have more mature cyber capabilities, USCYBERCOM has expanded hunt forward operations to help partners detect and expel malicious activity in their networks.

Over the past few years, USCYBERCOM has completed 35 hunt forward operations in 18 countries, working to improve the cybersecurity of U.S. partners and allies to reduce the risk from adversaries’ cyberattacks.

The State Department is also a critical element of this international cyber capacity building effort. Several State programs provide resources to boost cyber resilience in partners and allies. These include programs that: (1) improve incident response and remediation capabilities; (2) train personnel on international cyberspace law to enable partners to develop and implement national laws, policies, and procedures to hold malign actors accountable; (3) support efforts to foster government-industry cooperation on cybersecurity and build network resilience; and (4) enhance partner military cybersecurity capacity through foreign military financing.

Cyberattacks and cybercrime against foreign targets can have ripple effects that can harm U.S. national security. The attacks are almost never isolated issues. The Biden administration should expand collaborative efforts that improve interoperability, such as Cyber Dome VII, to improve partner resilience in the face of cyber threats. The administration should also expand the State Department’s cybersecurity capacity building programs and USCYBERCOM’s hunt forward operations to more allies. Congress, meanwhile, should ensure these efforts are fully resourced.

RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery is the senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he is also a senior fellow. He directs CSC 2.0, which works to implement the recommendations of the congressionally mandated Cyberspace Solarium Commission, where he previously served as executive director. Michael Sugden is a CCTI intern and a master’s student in security policy studies with a concentration in science and technology at The George Washington University. For more analysis from the authors and CCTI, please subscribe HERE. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkCMontgomery. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CCTI. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


Cyber Israel Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy