Israeli Government Websites Knocked Offline

A number Israeli government websites were taken offline on March 14th in one of the largest cyber attacks ever launched against the country. 

The attack was in the form of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that successfully took down the websites of Israeli’s Prime Minister’s Office plus the  Interior, Health, Justice and Welfare ministries. 

The incident was confirmed online by the Israel National Cyber Directorate, which said that a DDoS attack denied access to services “for a short time”.

The official Twitter account of the Israel National Cyber Directorate said: “In the past few hours, a DDoS attack against a communications provider was identified. As a result, access to several websites, among them government websites, was denied for a short time. As of now, all of the websites have returned to normal activity.”

The Israeli government declared a state of emergency to investigate the extent of the damage caused and determine whether some of its critical infrastructure services were affected. Israeli media outlet Haaretz reported that the DDoS attack targeted all websites operating with the gov.il domain, which excludes defence-related ones. 

It is believed that the attack was perpetrated by a nation-state actor or large organisation, however, it remains unclear exactly who. The Jerusalem Post has reported that Iranian threat actors may have conducted the attack in retaliation for other events amid ongoing tensions between Israel and Iran. 

Local media also quoted Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel as stating that sites with gov.il extensions were unable to be reached for at least an hour. All sites are now reported to be back online. “A defense establishment source claims that this was the largest-ever cyberattack carried out against Israel. They believe that a state actor or large organization carried out the attack, but cannot yet determine who is behind it,” Yaniv Kubovich and Omer Benjakob write for Haaretz.  

While many of the similar cyber attacks on Israel have been linked to Iran, the source of this instance has not yet been identified. The two countries have been involved in a cyberwar, with incidents ranging from an attack on Iran’s fuel distribution system to an attempted attack on Israel’s water system. Since the attack, it appears that all of the websites are up and running again. 

Israel Governmnet / Twitter:    Haaretz:     Infosecurity Magazine:      Oodaloop:      Portswigger:   CyberNews

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