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Cyberattack shuts down Bnei Brak hospital’s computers

Ransomware targets the haredi Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center.

Illustrative image. Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.
Illustrative image. Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.

Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak was hit by a cyberattack on Monday night, Israel’s Health Ministry announced on Tuesday morning. The hospital’s administrative computers were shut down in what was described as a ransomware attack.

The ultra-Orthodox hospital, located east of Tel Aviv, said medical equipment was not affected by the attack and that patients are being treated. But the ministry instructed that the center’s outpatient clinics and imaging centers not accept patients and that the public not go to its emergency room until further notice.

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, which is in charge of defending the national cyberspace, was notified.

It wasn’t immediately clear who was responsible for the attack.

In May, State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman reported that Israeli hospitals were hit with 13 major cyberattacks in 2021, making the healthcare sector one of the most targeted by hackers.

To test the preparedness of the hospitals, a team of hackers overseen by the State Comptroller’s Office staged a controlled penetration of one major hospital identified as Medical Center A. The attack revealed deficiencies in the medical center’s security precautions and responses to the “hack.”

The ombudsman also cited the vulnerability of hospital equipment, such as ultrasound and MRI scanning devices, which are integrated into hospital information networks.

Englman’s report recommended that hospital managers formulate a work plan to eradicate or minimize the risks, and that regular penetration tests be carried out.

The ombudsman also called on the Health Ministry to examine the findings of the penetration test on Medical Center A. to develop and implement recommendations for Israel’s other medical institutions.

Since 2021, Israeli hospitals have encountered a series of cyberattacks, some with severe consequences. These incidents have included ransomware attacks, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and data breaches, all aimed at crippling the hospitals’ operations and compromising patient information.

In October of that year, the National Cyber Directorate thwarted attacks on several medical institutions. But a ransomware attack on Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera paralyzed the computer systems, patient registry and even electric doors.

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