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Iranian hack likely set off sirens in Jerusalem and Eilat, say cyber-security experts

Report: The attack targeted municipal alert systems but did not breach essential IDF infrastructure.

Israelis take cover in Ashkelon as a siren warns of incoming rockets from Gaza, May 19, 2021. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.
Israelis take cover in Ashkelon as a siren warns of incoming rockets from Gaza, May 19, 2021. Photo by Edi Israel/Flash90.

A suspected Iranian cyber attack likely set off rocket-warning sirens in the cities of Jerusalem and Eilat on Sunday, Israeli media reported.

Israeli cyber-security authorities said the attack targeted municipal alert systems but did not breach essential IDF infrastructure, according to Ynet.

Authorities “instructed local councils to take precautionary steps to secure their alert systems, since they were activated by municipal alert systems and not by the IDF’s Home Front Command,” the report issued on Monday said.

The report cited Yoram Cohen, head of the Israel Internet Association, as saying that the hack “did not appear to harm any vital infrastructure,” but that it had once again exposed vulnerabilities in civilian systems.

“There is a gap between Israel’s excellent cyber defenses on critical infrastructure compared to non-critical civilian systems,” said Cohen. “This was not the first cyber attack to demonstrate the gap, and there must be increased awareness of the fact in order to protect Israel’s networks.”

Last week, the Checkpoint cyber-security firm said Iranian hackers were likely behind a breach of email accounts belonging to former and current senior Israeli officials, including an Israeli ambassador to the United States and a former general.

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