‘Don’t come to our ER’ – Israeli hospital crippled by cyber attack

Tel Aviv-area medical center rejects patients from emergency room, outpatient clinics as administrative systems damaged by overnight hacking.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Operations at a large medical center in central Israel were severely disrupted by a massive cyber attack on Tuesday morning, forcing staff to turn away new patients and redirect them to alternative hospitals in the area.

The administrative computer systems of Maayanei HaYeshua Medical Center, located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, were targeted by unknown hackers.

Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, which helps victims of cyber attacks, is currently investigating the matter to determine who is behind the hacking.

“The damage is limited to our management systems and is not affecting patient care,” said a spokeswoman for Maayanei HaYeshua in a video statement to Hebrew-language media.

“Patients with scheduled appointments for our outpatient clinics and elective procedures, as well as those who want to be treated in the emergency room, are asked not to come to our hospital,” she added.

Yoram HaCohen, director of the Israel Internet Association (ISOC-IL), told media that it is time for Israel to invest more effort in protecting healthcare systems from cyber attacks.

“This attack emphasizes the importance of implementing cyber protection measures in hospitals as well. It is no less important and sometimes even greater than obtaining additional medical equipment,” HaCohen said in a statement.

He said that decision-makers at hospitals are often forced to choose between “an MRI machine and strengthening cyber defenses” and that most doctors preferred the first option.

But, HaCohen warned, “cyber attacks can disable all of a hospital’s medical devices, so we need to reexamine our priorities.”

In recent years, there have been a number of similar attacks against healthcare centers in Israel. Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera and the Mor Institute, which has numerous outpatient clinics throughout the country, were forced to move to an emergency format after cyber attacks.