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10,000 Israelis have used 119 cyberhotline to report hacks: Cyber Directorate

The calls came in between September 2019 and September 2020, directorate says, as it launches Cyber Defense Week in bid to increase citizen awareness and security

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative: A hacker in action. (BeeBright; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: A hacker in action. (BeeBright; iStock by Getty Images)

Some 10,000 Israeli citizens and organizations have called up the nation’s cybersecurity hotline, 119, in the past year – from September 2019 to September 2020 — to report cybersecurity incidents such as hacking into social networks, home routers, home cameras, and private emails, the Israel National Cyber Directorate said on Sunday.

To mark Cyber Defense Week Sunday through Thursday, the directorate and Facebook Israel are launching a campaign to strengthen protection of Facebook, Instagram and the WhatsApp accounts, the directorate said in a statement.

As part of the effort, instructional videos will be posted on Facebook calling on people to strengthen their accounts’ protection through simple steps, including the activation of two-step verification, which can “significantly reduce” the exposure to hacking and the chance of being harmed by cyberattacks on these social video channels.

Of the 10,000 reports, some 3,000 were about WhatsApp accounts being stolen from people who fell victim to fraud and provided codes to hackers, the statement said.

Cyber Defense Week is being held for the first time this year in Israel from October 25 to 29, with the aim of increasing public awareness of cybersecurity attacks and to motivate citizens to use basic cyber protection tools. The campaign was set up by the directorate and will include more than 120 public and private entities, including Facebook, the statement said.

Dana Toren, the head of the National Incident Management Center at the directorate, said that this year there is a “global increase in cyber-attacks and attacks targeting citizens through social networks and popular apps.”

With simple steps that take less than a minute, settings can be changed to make it tougher for hackers, she said.

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