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Israeli gov’t calls on public for ideas to combat ransomware attacks

Justice Ministry head notes the need to “formulate a uniform and comprehensive policy”

Illustration. BIGSTOCK/Copyright: AndreyPopov
Illustration. BIGSTOCK/Copyright: AndreyPopov

The Israeli Ministry of Justice issued a call to the public earlier this week, asking for proposals on ways to handle ransomware attacks. This, in order to form a comprehensive governmental policy to deal with this growing threat.

“In recent years, we have witnessed a growth in ransomware attacks, which have caused extensive damage first and foremost to the victims themselves but also to society as a whole,” says the Ministry’s call.

“It is estimated that between 2019 and 2020 there has been a significant growth (double and more) in both the number of victims who paid the ransom and in the average sum of ransom paid.

“Ransomware attacks and subsequent payments represent a major cyber threat with tremendous economic damage, and also suffer from very high underreporting.”

The need to regulate the threat of ransomware attacks and responses during the discussions of the Justice Ministry’s Committee on Adapting Jurisprudence to Challenges of Innovation and Accelerating Technology. The Committee designed a sub-team for this matter, led by the Head of Cybercrime at the State Attorney’s Office, Dr. Haim Vismonski.

The team is interested to receive ideas concerning a wide away of possible scenarios and paths towards regulating this realm, especially: state responsibility on aiding ransomware attack victims; conditions in which ransomware payment should be prohibited; the need for public disclosure of attacks and whether such information could be withheld in certain situations; and taxes concerning ransomware payment.

“The growing number of ransomware attacks is requiring us to formulate a uniform and comprehensive government policy,” said the Director General of the Ministry of Justice, Eran Davidi.

“We view with high importance the involvement of the public in diagnosing the problems and creating solutions that will enable the State of Israel to handle scams in the digital sphere in the best possible way.”

In the past year alone, Israel has experiences several very high-profile ransomware attacks, such as the one on the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, which effectively shut sown most of the hospital’s activities, and numerous others attempts with varying degrees of success.

According a survey conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in late 2021, 18% of organizations in the country has experienced a cyberattack, while one in 30 reported financial damage as a result. Among businesses with a staff of over 250 people, 42% have reported attacks or attempted attacks. However, 91% of victims do not report the attacks to law enforcement authorities.

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