Israel Foils Wide-Scale Cyberattack on Government Offices

Israel thwarted a large cyberattack on government offices and private citizens, the National Cyber Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday.

A statement issued by the National Cyber Bureau described the attack, which took place last Wednesday, as “unusually wide-scale, adding that hackers posing as a “legitimate organization” targeted “about 120 organizations, government offices, public institutions and private citizens.”

An official with the National Cyber Bureau said its teams were able to ascertain the identity of the hackers and pinpoint the attack’s country of origin, but have chosen not to release the information at this time.

The hackers attempted to infiltrate an organization involved in “civilian research, development and advanced technologies” and a “financial stock exchange,” with the aim of stealing information and disrupting or deleting their databases, he said.

According to the National Cyber Bureau, the hackers sent emails infected with malware to their intended victims, which carried a fake SSL, or secure sockets layer, and sought to exploit a Microsoft Word security flaw known as CVE-2017-0199.

The fake SSL was flagged on the National Cyber Bureau’s systems and an emergency protocol was triggered, notifying all compromised bodies of the hack.

Only three individuals opened the infected emails, but they sustained no damage.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that the flaw has been patched. The company regularly releases security patches for its software products.

“This is the most unusual and serious cyberattack we’ve seen recently on the civilian market, and we were able to stop it before it did any damage,” National Cyber Bureau official Rafi Franco told Israel Hayom.

The hackers “are trying to trick us, but we’re one step ahead of them. The enemy gathered intelligence before the attack it included careful thinking and planning, and it had a relatively innovative layout,” he said.

Franco noted that cyberattacks of this nature come in waves, so another attack was most likely only a matter of time.

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