State comptroller worried about cyber attacks ahead of possible Israeli election

Following the ransom hijacking of data from an insurance company, investigators are checking if Israel’s election infrastructure can withstand cyber attacks.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s state comptroller announced Monday that his office is investigating the readiness of the country’s election system to withstand cyber attacks.

Matanyahu Englman told the Knesset Finance Committee that his office is currently completing a comprehensive review of the Central Election Commission (CEC) computer systems, its computer activity in the last three election campaigns and the Election Commission’s readiness to deal with external cyber attacks that could impair the Israeli election process.

The auditor’s announcement came only days after an Israeli insurance company rejected a demand for a $1 million ransom by hackers who stole personal data and began releasing it on the internet. When the company refused to pay, the hackers doubled the ransom and released more personal data.

“From the moment I took office as State Comptroller, I defined auditing in the cyber and digital fields as part of the core areas of the State Comptroller’s Office, looking to the future at the national challenges facing the State of Israel,” Englman said in a statement from his office.

“More so in light of recent events … with external cyber attacks, this is out of a desire to allow the existence of the democratic process properly and without the intervention of various factors,” Englman said, adding that most of the audit has been completed, but several areas were being investigated more deeply.

“The purpose of the audit is to draw lessons for future election campaigns, including the one that can and will take place in the coming months,” Englman said, referring the possibility that following a preliminary vote last Israel to end the current Knesset session, the country might be heading to its fourth national vote in two years.

Englman said the CEC and the elections “are at the core of the democratic process in Israel and of paramount importance to each and every one of us.”

Israel has been known to develop some of the world’s most effective cyber defense tools, but the country has been targeted several times in the past year by state-sponsored Iranian hackers and criminal hackers are constantly looking for weaknesses to exploit.