Criminal Gang Blamed for Cyber Attack on Hospital

Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, in the northern Israeli city Hadera. (Hillel Yaffe Spokesperson)

Health Ministry cybersecurity chief Reuven Eliyahu said on Monday morning that the attack on Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera was likely carried out by Chinese hackers, not terrorists.

“This is probably a Chinese hacker group that broke away from another group and started working in August,” Eliyahu told Army Radio. “The motive for the attack was purely financial.”

The ransomware attack, which took over the hospital’s patient registry and hampered other functions, has yet to be fully repaired. Experts are still working on it a week later.

The Kan public broadcaster reported on Sunday that it could take “days or weeks” to recover the hospital’s systems.

It has not been disclosed what ransom, if any, the hackers were demanding, but as a government hospital, Hillel Yaffe is barred from paying any ransom, according to Channel 12 news.

Some non-urgent procedures were canceled as a result of the attack, but most of the hospital’s work is continuing, using alternative IT systems and pen and paper. Early on, the hospital issued a statement that no patients suffered harm or were put at risk by the incident.0/00:55

The cyber assault on the northern Israeli hospital that serves hundreds of thousands of people, was only the worst of an ongoing campaign.

“In the cyber world, the struggle is like a marathon; it is an ongoing war. This is World War III. It is a huge battlefield of billions of warriors,” Eliyahu said, adding that “the health sector in Israel is attacked tens of thousands of times a month.”

Some non-urgent procedures were canceled due to the attack, but most of the hospital’s work has been carried on, using alternative IT systems and pen and paper.