Chief Rabbinate Successfully Deflects Ransomware Attack

The building of the Religious Council and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Hackers in recent days conducted a ransomware attack on the computer network of the Chief Rabbinate, freezing operations and demanding payment of a ransom to return control of the network. Members of the Rabbinate’s information technology team were able to restore the data that was being withheld, with no losses, Channel Ten reported Thursday.

The Rabbinate was the victim of a malware attack, the report said. Such attacks are generally spread via email, with an attachment carrying a piece of software that infiltrates the operating systems of computers on a network, and prevents access to the files or databases. The hackers generally demand a sum of money in order to release the files. The amount of ransom the hackers demanded in this case was not disclosed.

The Chief Rabbinate’s computers contain, among other things, updated information on the status of marriages and divorces, hashgachah and business dealings that were adjudicated in beis din, and other vital information. Loss of the data could have serious consequences for many Israelis. The Rabbinate’s tech team was able to restore the data without any loss from its always-active backup system.

Computer experts stressed that it is important to avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from suspicious sources. Ransomware, which has become one of the most popular tactics for hackers to attack computer systems with, can often be embedded deep within attached files, making it difficult or impossible for standard security systems, like antivirus programs, to detect.