Behind an 8-Hour Traffic Jam: Hackers?

Major Israeli road closed last month amid reported cyberattack

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 28, 2013 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Israel's officials are deeply concerned about the threat of cyberwarfare, and an apparent attack last month in the northern city of Haifa may have validated those fears. On Sept. 8, a trojan horse attack—in which a hacker gains control over a system via software installed by unwitting users—hit security cameras in Israel's Carmel Tunnels toll road, an expert tells the AP. Right away, the major thoroughfare went on lockdown for 20 minutes; the next day it was closed for eight hours. And that led to more than headaches: It caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

The hack didn't appear to boast the sophistication of an enemy government attack; instead, it was likely the work of a group along the lines of Anonymous, the expert notes. The firm in charge of the toll road, on the other hand, says the problem was prompted by a "communication glitch," not a cyberattack. If it is the work of hackers, however, it "is the hallmark of a new era," says an outside security manager. Vulnerable systems are widespread, and Israel is "among the top-targeted countries," he notes. Israel Electric Corp., for instance, faces some 6,000 unique attacks each second, it says. "Big organizations and even countries are preparing for D-Day," says a rep for the company.

An Israeli Police officer stands guard as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not seen, takes part in the inauguration ceremony of the Carmel Tunnels, a traffic system in Haifa, Israel, Nov. 30, 2010.   (AP/Photo/Ariel Schalit)
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