Possible Iranian Cyberattack Triggered Sirens in Jerusalem

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Municipal air raid sirens were blaring across Jerusalem and Eilat Sunday evening in what the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) believes was an Iran-based cyberattack, Israel National News Arutz Sheva reported yesterday.

Because the air raid sirens activated were civilian, or municipal, and not “part of the Home Front Command network,” the INCD believes hackers are to blame, The Times of Israel added.

Several other local reports said more air raid sirens were heard across the Gaza area in Palestine on Friday night as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel.

Attack Directed at Israeli Company

For now, Israeli authorities suspect the attack was directed at an unnamed Israeli company “which provides public address systems to local authorities,” Arutz Sheva noted. Authorities said that hackers triggered sirens through this company, possibly while scanning for vulnerable entry points.

As a result of the alleged attack, Jerusalem residents heard sirens blaring for nearly an hour in the holy city’s Beit Hakerem, Katamonim, and Neve Yaakov neighborhoods.

The Times of Israel wrote that “unsourced reports in Hebrew-language media,” said Israel’s INCD is currently trying to confirm whether Iran-based threat actors were behind the incident.

Meanwhile, the INCD instructed local Israeli authorities on how to prevent such incidents in the future, Arutz Sheva added. The measures put forward were basic cybersecurity best practices such as access and privilege control, increasing password hygiene and the utilization of two-factor verification.

If the municipal air raid sirens in Jerusalem were, in fact, activated by hackers who leveraged an Israeli company to do so, this indicates a vulnerability in Jerusalem’s municipal industrial control system (ICS) cyber-infrastructure.

Iran and Israel: A Troubled Relationship

It is no surprise the Israeli authorities blame Iran-based actors and vice versa. The two military nations are well-known for the diplomatic and geopolitical tension between them, as well as ongoing back-and-forth spats over the decades.

Up until the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the two countries fostered a good relationship and even developed military technology together. Diplomatic relations crumbled when Iran cut off ties and refused to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate state.

It seems Israel and Iran are in a constant state of cyber war with one another and are also rivals when it comes to the business of military-grade cyber tools. In April 2021, Iran blamed Israel for a cyberattack on one of their uranium enrichment facilities. In November that year, the U.S. blamed Iranian state-backed hackers for cyberattacks on critical sectors.

More recently, Israel pinned Iran as the top suspect for the DDoS attack on Israeli communications in March this year.

Tech researcher & communications specialist
Mirza has an education background in Global Communications, has worked in advertising, marketing, journalism and television over the years while living in several different countries. He is now working to consolidate news and outreach at VPNoverview.com, while in his free time he likes to work on documentary projects, read about sociology and write about world events.