Israel Tries Something Fishy

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate has recruited several dozen fish to help defend the country’s water infrastructure from cyber-threats.

The Directorate took over responsibility for protecting the nation’s water system after cyber-attackers hit six Israel Water Authority facilities earlier this year.

In a series of incidents that occurred on April 24/25, “irregularity due to an unplanned change in data” was recorded at one facility. Elsewhere, a pump hacked to go into continuous operation had to be placed under manual control.

At one site, threat actors altered the settings of the facility’s operating system while at another, they managed to gain control over the entire system.

An anonymous Western intelligence official told the Financial Times in June that the attackers had unsuccessfully tried to increase the level of chlorine in Israel’s water supply.

Commenting on the scale of the attack, head of the National Cyber Directorate, Yigal Unman, said: “If the bad guys had succeeded in their plot, we would now be facing, in the middle of the coronavirus crisis, very big damage to the civilian population and a lack of water and even worse than that.”

Well, a July 13 report by Channel 12 revealed that, in the wake of the cyber-assault, fish had been hired to add the fin-ishing touch to Israel’s already advanced water monitoring systems.

Fish of various sizes have been put to work in a dozen aquariums filled with drinking water that are located at the Eshkol water purification site in Beersheba. There they act as bio-indicators, providing an early warning system by reacting to potentially harmful changes in the water.

Water quality engineers use security cameras to monitor the fish around the clock, looking out for any changes in their swimming patterns. “The little ones react faster to changes in the water and the bigger fish react to build-up effects in the water quality over time,” Ortal Shlafman, a water quality engineer, told Channel 12.

“The control room watches them all the time – are they swimming faster or slower?” she added.

The fishy business is reminiscent of how canaries were once used in coalmines to monitor carbon monoxide levels.

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