Jewish organizations express worries over cyberattacks

According to the ADL, more than half of Jewish Israeli teens have reported being attacked online because of their nationality.

Cyber hackers [illustrative] (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cyber hackers [illustrative]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A month after North Korean hackers allegedly infiltrated Sony Pictures’ corporate network and posted confidential data in retaliation for a film portraying the assassination of their country’s dictator, Jewish organizations in the United States began preparing themselves for the possibility of coming under cyber attack themselves.
The Anti-Defamation League – in conjunction with the National Association for Temple Administration, the North American Association of Synagogue Executives, the Orthodox Union and Chabad – held an online seminar this week for some 80 Jewish community representatives to “raise awareness of the threat of cyber attacks among Jewish community organizations and synagogues.”
The ADL’s Deborah Lauter explained in a statement that “we’ve already seen some isolated incidents where synagogues have fallen prey to hacker attacks. Unfortunately, given the world we live in, Jewish institutions and organizations remain a prime target of anti-Semites and cyber terrorists and must always be on guard.”
She added that “if Sony, Target and Home Depot can fall victim to hackers, so too can Jewish organizations. Simple steps can help prevent loss of data and other risks associated with doing business in the online environment.”
The ADL has begun focusing on the Internet as the future battleground in the fight against racism, issuing guidelines and best practices and advising technology firms on how to deal with hate online.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for New York’s Yeshiva University told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the school was looking into claims that online activists were looking to impersonate its students, after it had received a warning from the Zionist Organization of America.
In a letter to YU President Richard Joel last week, ZOA National President Morton Klein cited an online discussion on the website – a knockoff of the more popular 4chan message board site – promoting “Operation Jewbook Infiltration.” Participants would “create Jewish profiles, and then subtly infiltrate pro Zionist, pro equality, pro feminist and other groups,” the website said.
“Once people create these false profiles, they will be able to misrepresent themselves and ‘infiltrate’ Yeshiva University as part of the university’s Facebook network, even though they have absolutely no connection to the university,” Klein warned. “They will also have access to information about others in the yeshiva community, which they plainly plan to use for nefarious purposes.”
Although only seven people responded to the post calling to impersonate YU students online, a spokeswoman indicated that the security and legal departments at Yeshiva University “are pursuing the appropriate avenues to address this horrible, ugly effort to incite and perpetuate hate speech and anti-Semitic behavior.”
YU’s response seems to indicate that Jewish organizations take such threats seriously, no matter how few people seem to be involved.
According to the ADL, more than half of Jewish Israeli teens have reported being attacked online because of their nationality.
“Even though the worst that can happen is a few fights on Facebook, their goals seem to be something definitely to be aware of and be vigilant about,” the ZOA told the Post.
Eitan Arom contributed to this report.