Security surveillance cameras in Tel Aviv on September 23.
CNN  — 

After suspected Iranian hackers claimed a string of recent attacks on Israeli security cameras, Israel’s cyber defense chief told CNN he is “very concerned” that Iran could escalate its long-running covert battle with Israel in cyberspace with more serious attacks on infrastructure as the war between Israel and Hamas shows no sign of ending.

“They [Iran] know that they can act there more freely [in cyberspace] than in the physical space,” said Gaby Portnoy, the head of the Israel National Cyber Directorate. “We are prepared for that as much as we can.”

Portnoy said there would be a “cost” to any Iranian escalation in cyberspace, implying that Israeli hackers could retaliate against Iran with their own operations. But Portnoy, who is in charge of cyber defense and not offense, said his goal is to keep cyberspace from becoming “another front” in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Iranian hacking groups have proven adept at crippling computer systems at companies in Israel, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. Israel has its own elite cyber operatives that are, alongside the US, widely suspected to have conducted a cyberattack on an Iranian nuclear facility in 2009. And Israeli covert cyber operations against Iran have continued in recent years.

In the four weeks since the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, suspected Iranian hackers have claimed hacks of a slew of security cameras in Israel and posted an instructional video on how to make Molotov cocktails to “attack the Israeli and American embassies,” according to interviews with private cybersecurity experts who track the hackers and CNN’s review of the social media posts.

Analysts say the digital saber-rattling is another way for Iran to project power during the war, aside from rocket and drone attacks on Israeli forces conducted by Lebanese militia Hezbollah, and similar strikes by other Iranian proxies against US troops in Syria and Iraq.

Portnoy also alleged that hackers affiliated with Hezbollah have hacked pri