Israeli hospital hit with ransomware attack

Hillel Yaffe Medical Center says it is able to keep operating, aside from non-urgent elective procedures, by switching to alternate computer systems

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A man typing on a computer keyboard, January 24, 2017. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A man typing on a computer keyboard, January 24, 2017. (Flash90)

The Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in the northern city of Hadera said Wednesday that it had been targeted in a ransomware attack by hackers, but that it had largely  managed to overcome the damage.

The hospital said it had received no advance warning of the attack on its computer systems.

Medical services at the hospital were continuing as usual as it switched to alternate systems, it said, aside from some non-urgent treatments. The hospital said it would keep the public informed of developments.

The incident was immediately reported to the Health Ministry and the Israel National Cyber Directorate, it said.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that it was working with the hospital to fully restore it to regular operations.

“The Health Ministry and the national cyber directorate were updated with details of the incident and are cooperating on investigating and dealing with it,” the ministry said. It added that it had sent warnings about the matter to other hospitals as a preventative measure.

The Laniado Hospital in Netanya said it was coordinating with the Magen David Adom ambulance service and was ready to receive any patients who needed treatment that was not available at Hillel Yaffe due to the attack.

Last month, Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point reported that Israeli institutions are targeted with about twice as many cyberattacks as the average in other countries around the world, including the country’s health sector, which experiences an average of 1,443 a week.

The most targeted sectors around the world, including Israel, are education and research, followed by government and security organizations, and then health institutions, Check Point said at the time.

The report found that, on average, one in every 60 Israeli organizations or firms is targeted every week with ransomware attacks, an increase of 30 percent over the rate in 2020.

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