Israel's Electrical Grid Targeted by 'Severe Cyberattack'

Energy Minister Steinitz says Israeli electric authority succeeded in mitigating attack by shutting down systems to prevent virus from spreading.

Danna Harman
Danna Harman
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An archive photo of Israel Electric Corp's control room in Haifa.Credit: Tomer Noyberg
Danna Harman
Danna Harman

Israel’s Electricity Authority managed to thwart a “severe cyber attack” on its operations this week, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Minister Yuval Steinitz revealed Tuesday.

Speaking at the close of the first day of the two-day Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, Steinitz said that the attack – which was discovered on Monday – was being “handled” by his ministry, together with Israel’s National Cyber Bureau.

National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz at a press conference announcing the new gas deal, Aug. 13, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

“The virus was already identified and the right software was already prepared to neutralize it,” he told the slowly thinning out crowd – which seemed to suddenly wake up at the news. “We had to paralyze many of the computers of the Israeli electricity authorities. We are handling the situation and I hope that soon, this very serious event will be over.”

The attack, he continued, was yet another example of “the sensitivity of infrastructure to cyber-attacks, and the importance of preparing ourselves in order to defend ourselves against such attacks.”

Steinitz did not identify the attackers, or say whether his ministry had any suspects. A spokeswoman for the Electricity Authority confirmed there had been such an attack, and that, as a consequence, some of the authorities’ computer system had indeed been shut down —for two days. In a statement, she added however, that she believed "we are going to solve this problem in the coming hours.”