Josh Horowitz is a VC investor with vast experience in the fields of BioTech and Cannabis Ventures.
While Israel faces massive cyber attacks, Israel’s Ministry of Communications debates transferring invoices from mail to e-mail.
Last month, the ministry of communications stated its consideration of changing the default method for sending bills of TV, Internet and Telephone services. Accordingly, customers who will not make an explicit declartion, will receive their invoices via e-mail until otherwise declared by them.
Besides the obvious difficulty this reform creates to the elderly, holocaust survivors, people with disabilities, and underpriviliged populations, who do not necessarily have access to e-mail accounts, the Ministry of Communications choses to force the citizens of Israel under the risk of theft of their personal details and identities.
True, our details are online anyway and in the hands of these companies anyway, but according to our conversation with a professional hacker, who identifies as “The Lizard”, the e-mailing method, and especially one that comes from official companies, exposes costumers to a sophisticated information-gathering technique.
“This is a technique called ‘Phishing’”, says the hacker, “hackers know how to identify the people who receive e-mails at fixed times from companies. The hackers impersonate these companies and send customers innocent-looking e-mails asking to update their details, for example, while in fact these are fraud e-mails and the typed details go directly to the hacker”.
When asked if there is a way to defend oneself against such e-mails, "The Lizard" replies: "People with a certain technological orientation sometimes look suspicious, but people who are less familiar with the field, like the elderly, do not know how to recognise the signs as a slightly strange address of the site, so they become the perfect victims”.
These are not just null threats: according to the Israeli "People and Computers" website, last November alone, about 141 Israeli organisations and companies were attacked by hackers.
The hackers break into the companies' databases, and "take hostages" the personal details of their customers. In addition to demanding payment, they do so in order to embarrass the Israeli economy and hurt morale. According to the website, this figure reflects an increase of 3% compared to October, and of 7% compared to September, when 128 Israeli organizations were attacked.
Israel is a preferred target for hackers, who see harming Israel as a goal itself, in addition to stealing details and money. This is what The Lizard tells us: "I have often worked with colleagues who chose victims based on their Israeli citizenship. For them, the harm to Israelis is a bonus and a strong motivation”.
Given that this data is known to the authorities, the decision of the Ministry of Communications is particularly puzzling. The question arises as to what the interests behind this decision are, and how important they are in the considerations of the decision that will expose hundreds of thousands of Israelis to harm.
You should note that transferring the default from the mail to the e-mail, (which can also be done today upon request), will save the communications companies millions of shekels in the long run. The question is, at whose expense will the profit come?
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