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Virus threat hit Israeli Foreign Ministry computers

Cyber attacks on websites run by government have very common and in nearly every country many such incidents are reported every now and then. These attacks are the proof of the increasing audacity of the hackers worldwide and their expertise in gaining confidential information from government channels. This is the reason why most government agencies today are concerned more about this new form of attack rather than the conventional ones as hackers can do much more than just breaking into some servers or user accounts. Hackers today love to exploit the smallest of weaknesses in the security setup and flaunt their acts as achievements on the internet and given the speed with which such news spreads on the internet, it soon becomes a national embarrassment for the concerned government.

In the latest incident, a number of the offices of the Israel Government have become victims of a cyber attack in the past week when an attack which aimed at slipping a Trojan horse into the servers of some ministries. The Trojan horse was supposedly sent as an attachment to emails which bear the name of the Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz in the subject line. After learning of the threat, the Israeli Police pulled the national computer network from the public internet for fear of a cyber attack. A senior government official later commented that the incident was being investigated and it is quite possible that it is an isolated incident.

Sources who have gained access to the internal communications of the Foreign Ministry’s defence department have claimed that the communication mentions the appearance of unusual e-mails in the various embassies and delegations etc. during the past week. Most of those emails either contain a mention of the IDF Chief Benny Gantz or are sent from an address bearing his name. The content portion of the emails consists of statements made by politicians and some emails consisted of facebook friend requests and some links to Gant’s website. A lot of such emails were sent on Wednesday to various departments and embassies in the country and abroad also but were rejected this time by an automated system, which declared them as offensive with possibility of containing Trojans or viruses and also warned that they could be activated upon opening and could damage the central computer system.

To curb this problem effectively, the Foreign Ministry issued warnings to employees about using emails and facebook accounts and cautioned them that the malicious content could reach them through emails or facebook and that they should report any suspicious email or activity to the defence department.

It is believed that the Israel police had received an intelligence tip concerning the possible cyber attack and had information that a virus could be inserted using a USB drive or CD into the central computer system of the police.

The intelligence update did not mention anything about the identity of the culprits responsible for the attack. Moreover, it could not be confirmed whether the attack was made on a few systems or the complete networks and whether any system had been hacked actually. However, Israel government will have to be alert and cautious regarding this cyber threat during the coming days.
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