Cyberattack on Ministry of Health website blocks overseas access

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A cyberattack has disrupted access to the Health Ministry’s website for users from overseas, the ministry said on Sunday.

While the site still works for local Israelis, those trying to enter from outside the country have been intermittently unable to do so, the ministry said in a statement.

He said the issue was being handled by the ministry and the e-government unit, a reasonable state organization to maintain internet services for government websites.

The Ministry of Health website offers information in English on a range of topics, including health rules for visiting Israel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Iraq-based pro-Iranian hacker group calling itself Altahrea Team claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Hebrew media.

On its Telegram channel, the group reportedly wrote that the attack was carried out in response to the bombardment of the Gaza Strip over the weekend and a list of other ills.

Illustrative: A cybersecurity expert stands in front of a map of Iran as he speaks to journalists about Iranian hacking techniques, September 20, 2017, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)

The group’s alleged grievances included sanctions against Iran, which hackers say is killing thousands by blocking the arrival of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, as well as support for Ukraine in its battle. against the Russian invader.

“Now you are in our sights,” the band wrote.

Israel struck the Gaza Strip twice over the weekend in response to rocket fire at Israeli communities from the Palestinian enclave.

Last week, Altahrea Team claimed to have attacked the website of the Jerusalem municipality as well as that of the defense company Rafael on Thursday. He also claimed responsibility for an attack Monday on the Tel Aviv Municipality website.

Although the Department of Health did not provide any details on the nature of the incident, the attacks over the past week were all Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in which website servers were overwhelmed with near-simultaneous connection requests. This type of attack does not allow data theft.

The Israel Internet Association said in a statement that combating DDoS attacks involves temporarily blocking server requests from overseas, which is likely why the Health Ministry site cannot be accessed. only to users in Israel.

In April, the Altahrea team took responsibility for an online assault that temporarily destroyed the Israel Airports Authority.

According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the group has also attacked sites in Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the past.

Numerous alleged Iranian cyberattacks against Israel have been reported in recent years, including one targeting its water infrastructure in 2020.

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