Israeli Research Facility Working Toward Coronavirus Vaccine Is Allegedly Targeted in Cyber Attack

  • Amanda Casanova Contributor
  • Published May 26, 2020
Israeli Research Facility Working Toward Coronavirus Vaccine Is Allegedly Targeted in Cyber Attack

A cyber attack last week shut down hundreds of Israeli websites and impacted an Israeli research institute developing a coronavirus vaccine.

According to CBN News, the attacks were not meant to steal information but to hamper vaccine development.

Israeli officials said the attacks caused no damage.

Some of the websites targeted in the attacks were replaced with a video stream of Israeli cities being bombed and a message that threatened Israel.

The Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) said Thursday it was a “superficial defacing of websites of private bodies in Israel done via a single storage firm hosting those websites.”

It’s unclear who is responsible for the cyber attacks, but an Israeli news station suggested Iranian hackers may have been involved.

Israel and Iran have been engaged in cyber warfare after Israel allegedly knocked out Iran’s port computers, shutting down traffic at Iran’s Shahid Rajee port terminal. That attack is presumed to come in retaliation for an Iranian hacking attempt on Israeli water distribution networks, but Iran has denied involvement in that hacking attempt.

Hackers had tried to cripple computers that control water flow and wastewater treatment in Israel. Israeli Water Authority officials detected the cyber attack before there was any damage.

Israel isn’t the only country being targeted in cyber attacks on vaccine research organizations. The U.S. reported earlier this month that state-sponsored Chinese hackers were targeting U.S. labs and the United Kingdom reported that Russia was trying to hack some of its research labs.

"There is nothing more valuable today than biomedical research relating to vaccines for treatments for the coronavirus," said Jon Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. "It's of great importance not just from a commercial value but whatever countries, company or research lab develops that vaccine first and is able to produce it is going to have a significant geopolitical success story."

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Motortion

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.