Photo Credit: Sliman Khader / Flash 90
A hacker wearing a mask sits at a computer. (illustrative)

Israel has launched the world’s first cyber hotline to help individuals and businesses who suspect they’ve been hacked.

The “Computer Emergency Response Center” (CERT) features a 119 hotline number that can be called from anywhere in Israel, around the clock.

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The center also runs a chat room for technology officers for the country’s major companies, allowing them to safely and privately share information about data breaches.

The center itself is physically located in the blossoming high-tech Negev capital of Be’er Sheva. Most of the personnel are veterans of Israeli military cyber units.

“Our job is to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible, to learn about the threats and to spread the knowledge where relevant,” CERT director Lavy Shtokhamer told Reuters in an interview at the center.

“A cyber attack may not be limited only to property or financial damage. It can also threaten lives.”

Since the launch of the center three weeks ago, the hotline has received around 100 calls daily, he said, most of them from victims of cyber hackers rather than nation states. Less than one percent were hoaxes.

“White hackers” comprised around 15 percent of the callers – cyber experts who track down vulnerabilities in corporate or government systems, and work to fix them before they can be exploited.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.