Cleared for publication: The police have arrested Moshe Halevi, 40, from Acre, for allegedly hacking into one of the Israeli courts' databases and accessing thousands of case files, some of which contain classified information.
Two additional suspects were arrested as well. One of the suspects, Attorney Boaz Guttman, is a former high-ranking police officer with the National Fraud Unit.
The database that was breached is a classified one, which holds documents pertaining to some of the Israeli authorities' most sensitive police and security-related investigations.
An investigation into a possible hacking into the courts' database was launched after details about a high-profile Tel Aviv rape case were leaked.
Police information security experts were able to detect the breach in the system's firewall and fix the problem.
The investigation was placed under a gag order pending the work's completion to minimize the possibility of copycats.
According to available details, Halevi and his accomplices hacked the court system systematically for four years and viewed – and at times copied – thousands of confidential court records, warrants and subpoenas.
Photo posted on Halevi's Facebook page
Police believe that while in some cases Halevi sought to satisfy his own curiosity, more often than not he was doing the bidding of others who were seeking the information.
The police seized his personal computer, where thousands of sensitive documents were found.
Scope of breach 'shocking'
"This is a very serious thing. This man accessed and used thousands of classified documents. We still don't know who was affected and whether criminal elements were the ones to order such documents," Chief Superintendent Meir Cohen, who supervises the case, said.
Police sources added that the material Halevi accessed contained "some of the police's top secrets."
Halevi, who was in trouble with the law in the past over similar offenses, denied being involved in any illegal hacking and was quick to blame the courts' website administrator:
"I didn’t hack any database. All I did was go on the website. I accessed the files with my ID number – I didn't use anything.
"Documents from the Anat Kam and the Holyland cases were open and the court records had the full name of the State witness," he said.
"I accidently typed in a wrong case number and saw that I could access other cases. Some of them I just passed on to acquaintances. It's what you do today – like Twitter."
A police source told Ynet that the scope of the breach and the acute security failure discovered in the system came as a shock to the top brass.
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The documents accessed reportedly contained material usually revealed to judges only, documentation of covert investigations, wiretap transcripts and arrest warrants.
"These are document that could be used to seal a person's fate in trial and in some case, they can place people in harm's way," a police official said.
Halevy was remanded to a three-day house arrest on Monday.
"The police say I hacked the website but I didn’t. There was a malfunction on the website when I was using it and I didn't know. I had no way of knowing the information I saw was classified," he insisted.
Halevy further leveled criticism at the website administrator: "If this is a database than it violates the Privacy Act. If they intended to keep the documents classified they should have build a secure site."
"Unfortunately, despite all our efforts, an unauthorized access took place. In order to deal with the problem the site was taken offline shortly and then went online again. The case in under investigation by the police.
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