TEL AVIV – A large-scale hacking attack targeting more than a million Israeli web pages was largely foiled over the weekend, with the exception of the defacement of dozens of web pages with the words “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
The unknown hackers found a breach in Hebrew website Nagich, which provides services for people with disabilities to major websites. Several sites, including Israeli news sites Makor Rishon and Calcalist, as well as McDonald’s, were down for at least an hour. Hackers tried to get visitors to download malicious software to their computers.
The incident highlighted a failure in the online security of Israeli companies.
The hacking attack had the potential to bring parts of the Israeli economy to a halt, activist hacker Yuval Adam said in remarks to The Times of Israel.
Adam was at home when his partner told him that the “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine” slogan had appeared across her screen when she tried logging on to the Ynet news site.
Adam informed the cyber department in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Ran Bar-Zik, senior software developer at Verizon Media, who worked with Adam on thwarting the attack, said that the hackers’ goal was to block access to unprotected files and pages unless a ransom was paid to free up computers.
“This was waiting to happen,” Adam said.
Bar-Zik said Nagich displayed “incredible negligence, about which warnings have been sounded in the recent past.”
“The State of Israel, the cyber nation, got off very easy,” Bar-Zik wrote on his blog.
“The hackers could have caused billions of [shekels of] damage instead of vandalism. The defacing, thanks to our alertness and that of the cyber directorate (and probably to other researchers who reported it), also lasted just a limited time.”