More arrests expected in courts’ data hacking case

Details to emerge in coming weeks as to whom the hackers passed on the confidential court documents to, police tell 'Post'.

cyber attack 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
cyber attack 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Further arrests are expected in a hacking case that exposed some of the most sensitive information in Israel’s legal and law enforcement system, police confirmed on Thursday.
Details would emerge in the coming weeks as to whom the hackers passed on the confidential court documents they accessed, and the effect such violations had on public security, Supt. Yaron Ben-Tzvi, head of the Israel Police Cyber Crimes Unit, told The Jerusalem Post.
Ben-Tzvi said that in his 12 years on the force he had never heard of a case this severe, one that penetrated to the heart of the legal system.
“This was an invasion into the holy of holies of the Israeli court system and the Israel police,” he said, clarifying that not only did the suspects have access to classified information dealing with court cases, but also to police investigations that were under court-imposed gag orders.
On Monday, police announced the arrest of chief suspect Moshe Halevy, 42, well-known as the blogger “Halemo,” former National Fraud Squad officer Boaz Guttman and a third suspect.
Police believe the suspects engineered the penetration of the court system’s database, and accessed thousands of highly sensitive documents not open to the public.
Halevy confessed to the allegations against him, but blamed the courts for having lax security, Ben-Tzvi said.
“If you have the ability to access a court case still under a gag order, or to see arrest and search and seizure warrants ahead of time, you can get that information to the right people, and tell them what police or the courts are looking for,” he said.
Ben-Tzvi said the hackers first broke into the court and police databases in 2008, and accessed thousands upon thousands of secret files since then. Police caught on to the hacking earlier this year, after details of a rape in the Gan Ha’ir parking lot under Tel Aviv City Hall were leaked to the press despite a sweeping gag order on the case. Police realized something was amiss, and Ben-Tzvi and his team went to work.
A few months later investigators closed in on Halevy.
Police knew he would be able to spy on the investigation and access the arrest warrant issued against him.
Ben-Tzvi would not elaborate on this aspect of the case, but said that officers took steps to pass on the arrest warrant without exposing it to Halevy’s eyes.
When asked if the judicial system had sufficient security on its database, Ben-Tzvi said, “The courts had a firewall set up and a company that handled their online security, but like anything else online, with enough effort, time and determination, someone can find a point of weakness and break in.
“The public should know that the moment you connect your computer to the Internet, you should take into account that someone can break into your computer,” he said.