Photo by Ehud Amiton/TPS on 23 July, 2019

Israeli Hospitals Ordered to Disconnect From Internet, Fearing Cyber Attacks

Public By Pesach Benson • 21 October, 2023

Jerusalem, 21 October, 2023 (TPS) -- Israel’s Ministry of Health instructed a number of hospitals to temporarily disconnect their systems from the internet amid fears of a cyberattack, the ministry announced on Saturday night.

“In the effort to elevate the economy’s resilience, the National Cyber Directorate and the Health Ministry are acting to strengthen hospitals against attacks and are examining every suspicion,” the ministry’s statement said.

“As part of this effort, we are conducting self-initiated actions such as temporarily severing the internet connection. At this stage, this does not influence the hospitals’ ability to function, and patients were treated as usual.”

The statement did not indicate that the measures were in response to a current attack or any specific threats.

Since 2021, Israeli hospitals have encountered a series of cyberattacks with severe consequences. These incidents have included ransomware attacks, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and data breaches, all aimed at crippling the hospitals’ operations and compromising patient information.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman reported in May that Israel’s health care sector was vulnerable to cyberattacks. To test the preparedness of the hospitals, a team of hackers overseen by his office staged a controlled penetration of one major hospital, revealing deficiencies in the medical center’s security precautions and responses to the “hack.”

Englman’s report stressed the vulnerability of hospital equipment, such as ultrasound and MRI scanning devices, which are also integrated into hospital information networks.

The most recent cyber attack on an Israeli hospital was in September, when a hacker group on published patient data stolen from Israel’s Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak.