Cyber defense war room 370.
(photo credit: Reuters and Marc Israel Sellem)
Investigators from the Israel Police information security branch are on the
trail of a viral break-in of the national police computer system, which forced
the police to take their operations off-line on Wednesday, and issue strict
computer security guidelines to officers.
On Thursday, police announced
that they had ordered all officers to no longer use the Internet on police
computers and avoid using thumb drives or CDs, or any other passing of data and
programs between police computers. They said the decision was made after an
infiltration of some sort in the police computer system raised flags in the
computer security department of the police.
A flurry of messages was sent
to the press by several police subdistrict spokespeople shortly thereafter,
stating that “due to a computer malfunction in the national police computer
system,” they would not be able to send out emails, and that if reporters or
anyone else would like to reach them, it must be done by phone or by
Police investigators were looking at the possibility that someone
broke into the computer system. They were trying to determine how far the
break-in reached and if it entailed some sort of widescale cyber-attack or a
virus that was passed onto only a few computers, national police spokesman Micky
Rosenfeld also said that it was unclear if the virus
was created by an individual or an organized group, and that it was far too
early to tell if it originated from Iran or some other foreign
As of Thursday evening, the infiltration had not affected the
internal police databases and networks, Rosenfeld said, adding that all police
internal tracking systems were still working as usual.
There were media
reports that on Thursday morning, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) warned
the police that a dangerous computer virus was on its way, but on Thursday the
Shin Bet said it had issued no such warning.
In addition, the Public
Security Ministry, which oversees the Israel Police, denied reports that the
virus had compromised the ministry’s computer system.
As of press time,
police had still not given the green light for officers to use the Internet or
thumb drives, as investigators continued to check thousands of police computers
to make sure the threat was neutralized.