The Tel Aviv district attorney on Sunday charged six people, including a
computer programmer formerly employed as a Welfare and Social Services Ministry
contractor, in connection with a massive data theft that exposed the personal
details of millions of Israelis.
According to the indictment, filed in
the Tel Aviv District Court, 55-year-old Shalom Bilik had access to the
population registry database as part of his contract computer maintenance work
in the Welfare and Social Services Ministry’s information systems department. In
2005- 2006, during his time at the ministry, Bilik began to make copies of the
population registry data and sold it, the indictment said.
As a result of
the data theft, detailed personal information on 9 million Israelis, among them
minors, deceased persons and citizens living abroad, was exposed to publication,
including on various overseas websites and file sharing sites.
as well as copying the database, Bilik also copied monthly population registry
data updates that the Interior Ministry sent to the Welfare and Social Services
Ministry. In 2005, before his contract at the ministry ended, Bilik allegedly
took a copy of the stolen data to a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) organization in
Jerusalem, where he provided database services connected with the organization’s
Bilik copied the stolen database onto the organization’s
computer, together with a program he had written while at the ministry, which
allowed users to create queries to retrieve information from the database, the
Indicted alongside Bilik are Avraham Adam, 36; Yosef
Vitman, 32; Haim Aharon, 37; Moshe Moskovitz, 44; and Meir Leiver,
Adam, who worked at the haredi organization, allegedly used the
stolen data after Bilik gave it him. He converted the data into a Microsoft
Access database and created a user interface for extracting data, the indictment
Allegedly, Adam passed a copy of the data on to Vitman, a
volunteer at the organization.
According to the indictment, Vitman kept a
copy of the database, but sold another copy for NIS 2,000 to the third
Aharon, an independent computer consultant, merged the
stolen database with a copy of the national voter register for the 17th Knesset
and data from around eleven other databases, the indictment said.
then gave copies of the combined database, which he named “Mirsham”
(“Prescription”) to several people, and sold copies to tens of other people, for
thousands of shekels each, the indictment charges.
According to the
indictment, Aharon also charged customers around NIS 150 to carry out searches
on the data.
One of the people to whom Aharon allegedly gave a copy of
the stolen database was the fourth defendant, Moskovitz, an amateur computer
Moskovitz, the indictment said, enhanced the database with a
sophisticated search program he had written, and renamed it “Agron Plus 2006.”
Allegedly, Moskowitz then sold the stolen database on to many people for several
hundred shekels each. Moskowitz’s software allegedly allowed users to
build and perform complex searches on the data. Among the data fields included
for search on Agron Plus 2006 for each of its 9.2 million names were ID number,
full address, father’s and mother’s ID numbers, marital status and gender, the
The Agron software allegedly also included a search
program that allowed users to determine extended family relations of any Israeli
in the database.
Moskowitz password-protected the database, the
indictment alleges, to prevent others from duplicating it.
indictment said, a user managed to crack the password and made several copies of
the database, one of which ended up in the hands of the sixth defendant,
By June 2007, copies of the database were also found on various
Internet sites, the indictment said.
Leiver allegedly renamed his cracked
copy of the database “aRi” before posting it to several overseas Internet sites,
and encouraging large numbers of Internet users to download the database from
those Internet sites and copy it for free, the indictment
Eventually, the cracked software found its way onto other
websites and file-sharing sites around the world.
The indictment charges
the six men with various offenses under the Privacy Protection Law, which
attract a maximum five-year prison sentence.
In addition, Bilik is also
charged under the Penal Code with removal of a document from custody and passing
it to a third party, which attracts a maximum five-year prison
Leiver is also charged with destroying evidence, after allegedly
attempting to disrupt the investigation by deleting computer
Alongside the indictment, the Tel Aviv district attorney also
filed a request that the trial be held in closed court, and that a gag order be
imposed on the defendants’ testimony.
The request argues that details of
the Interior Ministry’s databases and database security and all witness
testimony relating to it should be kept secret to avoid any further data
Separately from the offenses relating to the population
registry database, Bilik is also charged with copying Israeli adoption databases
and taking the sensitive information home.
The adoption databases were
kept completely separate from the population registry databases, and were not
connected to each other. However, Bilik had access to both databases because he
was in charge of their maintenance, the indictment said.
According to the
indictment, data Bilik copied and stole included all personal information
regarding children up for adoption and their biological parents, including their
dates of birth, their ID number, their biological parents’ ID numbers,
occupations, addresses, full names, home telephone numbers, religions and birth
Also included in the stolen data was detailed personal information
relating to adults wishing to adopt.