Namely, the F-35 and other aircraft can be protected by installing an engine that cannot be disabled from the jet’s software, Israel Military Industries (IMI) cyber director Major Oren Bratt said at a cyber conference in Latrun, Israel. On such vehicles, it is paramount for hardware to remain functional even if a hack or defect has incapacitated its software.
Bratt suggested that such contingencies have to be accounted for in future systems development, because they won’t be adequately protected if "defense is not an integral part of the design from the start."
Regarding currently operating F-35s, Bratt said updates were classified, but that it should be assumed cyber defense systems are being enhanced.
As cyber attacks become more frequent and effective, the world must prepare for them to become more damaging, Bratt said, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Cyber attacks that target vulnerabilities in vehicles like the F-35 directly threaten human lives, and are therefore more devastating than even the recent global hack that locked up networks in 150 countries, he pointed out.
"Networks are vulnerable and IT supports most critical systems – we know this," he explained. Given that, he warned that a "cyber super effect is about to happen,” when hacks "create chaos by interrupting life-support systems."
At that point, cyber warfare will become a life and death matter, he said.
Major General Nadav Padan, chief of the Israeli Defense Force’s Cyber Division, spoke after Bratt. He told listeners not to expect strong regulation on cyber conflict in the near future. Firm regulations on nations using cyber tools against each probably won’t come about until there is "a great crisis or when a great power takes the game into their own hands," he said.
In the meantime, "the digital age changes are not merely a change in technology… but also in our experience." And with "international law and conventions not being settled until the practice of nations is settled," technological decisions are complex and full of risk.
In Israel, the fifth generation fighter jet equivalent to the F-35 is known as Adir, meaning "mighty" or "awesome" in Hebrew.