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.

Tomer Noyberg

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.

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.”