At least nine hospitals and other health organizations have been targeted by cybercriminals, the Ministry of Health recently announced. The attempted cyberattacks, also called ransomware attacks, aimed to halt the Israeli hospital systems, making it almost impossible for operations to continue and the medical staff to serve their patients.
One hospital in particular, the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera, was targeted last Wednesday and ran into many challenges during the full system breakdown. Automatic doors were locked as was the patient registry, pausing the ability to admit and discharge patients. A slew of other unknown effects were kept secret. Hackers commonly infiltrate systems in order to get paid a ransom for a full system restoration; however, as the medical center is a government-run organization it cannot pay a ransom. Israel is currently seeking foreign help to assist in the investigation and to return its systems back to normal, which could take months.
This cyberattack is one incident in a rising string of attacks across the world; however Israel has seen a 600% increase since January 2020, states a recent report by VirusTotal, a cybersecurity firm that collected 80 million ransomware reports from over 140 countries. Israel reported the highest number, and was in the top ten most affected territories according to the report, along with China, India, Iran, and the United Kingdom to name a few.
Another report by cybersecurity firm Check Point showed that Israel was twice as likely to be targeted than other countries, with most health organizations as the focus. Other highly targeted sectors include education, research, government, and security. As the dire need for digital security rises, over 30 country leaders gathered virtually to discuss increased cybercrime and potential solutions.