Israel sees 43% surge in cyberattacks, many from Iran and Hezbollah

In the past year, some 3,380 cyber events were reported to the national cyber directorate, and about 800 had significant damage potential; This marks a substantial increase in digital attacks against Israel, a surge amplified by the war; since October 7 there has been a daily average of 500 reported incidents

The National Cyber Directorate released its yearly report for 2023, which shows a noteworthy surge in cyber event reports to the directorate in comparison to the previous year, marking an increase of approximately 43%. The document released on Sunday also highlights that 800 cyber incidents, possessing significant damage potential, were successfully prevented between October 7 and December 31, 2023.
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תת אלוף (מיל') גבי פורטנוי נואם במסגרת שבוע הסייבר של אוניבסיטת ת''א
תת אלוף (מיל') גבי פורטנוי נואם במסגרת שבוע הסייבר של אוניבסיטת ת''א
Cyber Directorate chief Gabi Portnoy
(Photo: Cyber Week Tel Aviv University)
This represents a substantial escalation in the frequency of cyberattacks targeting Israel. The report indicates that of the 13,040 reports registered in 2023 by organizations and individuals, nearly 68% were logged during the war in Gaza. Furthermore, 41% of these reports pertained to infringements on social networks and WhatsApp accounts (a 2.5-fold increase from the previous year), around 25% were related to phishing attempts, and 13% involved breaches into IT systems.
Researchers from the directorate highlight that a notable percentage of these attacks were orchestrated by factions associated with Iran or Hezbollah. The directorate also managed around 800 substantial cyber incidents during the war, with the majority being effectively blocked without any significant damage, while maintaining operational continuity, as per the report. In the past year, firms that offer digital services to various organizations emerged as the primary targets due to their potential to simultaneously affect numerous organizations.
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(Photo: shuttershock)
Other sectors that became the focal point for attack attempts include the communication, government, finance and local governance sectors. Hospitals were frequently targeted during the attack attempts, with Ziv Medical Center in Safed - a facility serving the residents and soldiers of the northern border - becoming a key target for the Islamic Republic's hackers.
"There was an enhancement in our ability to safeguard the Israeli economy in 2023, attributed to a shift in the directorate's viewpoint and swift actions for widespread defense during the war," said National Cyber Directorate head, Gabi Portnoy. "The year 2024 will be characterized by persistent combat and preparedness for its potential escalation against more arenas, along with predictions for the improvement of cyber capabilities and our adversary's willingness to launch attacks that could harm the civilian populace."
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