Bank of Israel goes ‘underground’ to avoid missiles

Bank of Israel goes ‘underground’ to avoid missiles

A subterranean data center will ensure Israel’s economy would survive terrorist rocket attacks, says the central bank

The Bank of Israel in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ester Inbar)
The Bank of Israel in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Ester Inbar)

The Bank of Israel plans to build a new data center that could survive a major missile attack, ensuring that Israel’s national banking system is able to continue operating, no matter what.

The new data center, announced on Wednesday, is planned to include a reinforced underground area to store the bank’s servers and computer control systems. An underground electricity generator will ensure that the bank’s computers and communications system will continue to operate and that the framework of the economy is able to survive a major attack on the country.

The new facility, which is to be built next to the bank’s headquarters in Jerusalem, will allow bank workers to quickly get back online in the event of a national emergency, a bank spokesperson said. The spokesperson gave as an example a scenario in which Israel’s major cities are pummeled by massive rocket attacks, as southern Israel was in the months leading up to Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Thousands of rockets fired by Gaza terrorist groups resulted in tens of millions of shekels in losses due to lost work days, as workers were either sent home or told not to show up at all. Responsible for the smooth operation of the entire Israeli economy, the Bank of Israel cannot afford to allow security incidents to shut down or curtail its operations, the spokesperson said.

Currently, the bank’s servers are backed up at an underground data center in Tel Aviv. The bank’s main servers are set to be moved to the new facility, where workstations would be set up as well, so employees could continue to work without interruption. The project is expected to cost about NIS 74 million ($21 million).

The project is similar to one being developed elsewhere in Jerusalem by Bynet Data Communications for the private sector. An underground data center in the Har Hotzvim high-tech industrial area of the city will provide protection for the servers of companies in Jerusalem, said Alon Bar-Tsur, CEO of Bynet Communications. The Jerusalem center is on track to be the country’s largest underground data center, eventually covering 17,000 square meters. It is also set to be the country’s most secure, located 10 stories (35 meters) below ground, with room for up to 100,000 servers, capable of providing all of Israel’s current server, backup and cloud service needs, said Bar-Tsur. The center will provide a full range of services, such as servers and air conditioning, and fulfill the most stringent security requirements, such as those of international banks, he added.

In a statement, the bank said that “given the current risk assessment by Israel’s National Emergency Authority, it was decided that a system to protect the bank’s technological system to ensure the stability of Israel’s financial system during times of emergency.”

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