Cops disconnect from Internet after getting tip on virus

Cops disconnect from Internet after getting tip on virus

Foreign Ministry also reportedly targeted by computer worm named after IDF chief

A traffic cop on a computer. (illustrative photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
A traffic cop on a computer. (illustrative photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Computers belonging to the Israel Police were disconnected from the Internet and cops were told not to use memory sticks last week, after fears arose of a virus targeting the force.

Police said they got a tip about the Trojan virus, which may also be loaded via USB or memory stick, leading them to take measures against infecting their computer system, according to a report in Sky News.

The police are reportedly still trying to identify who is behind the tip and whether the virus is real.

A possible second virus — named Benny Gantz 55 after the Israel Defense Forces chief of general staff — is reportedly targeting Foreign Ministry computers, leading the ministry to send a cable to employees in Israel and abroad last week cautioning them, according to a report in Haaretz.

It is not clear if the viruses are linked.

According to Haaretz, which reported it obtained a copy of the Foreign Ministry’s advisory cable, missions abroad noticed a number of strange emails in the system which either looked like they were sent from Gantz or mentioned him. Most of the emails contained quotes from politicians in the body of the email.

Israel recently set up a cyberterror task force aimed at stopping attacks on its computer system. There have been a number of reports of attempted cyber espionage in the last several months, including an attempt to gain access to Bank Hapoalim’s computer system, which some analysts blamed on Iran.

Many believe the US and Israel are engaged in a covert cyber war with Iran, which has discovered a number of super-sophisticated computer viruses infecting the computers running its uranium enrichment program.

Neither Washington or Jerusalem has confirmed involvement with the bugs, but earlier this year, the New York Times’s David Sanger reported that a secret White House program code named “Olympic Games” had been behind attacks on Iran’s computer system.

Speaking about the cyberterror task force earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cautioned that it would take months or longer for the unit, set up last year, to be effective.

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