Israel’s famed Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa was targeted this weekend by hackers demanding more than a million dollars in Bitcoin.
— Louis Jabbour (@LouisJa_) February 12, 2023
“Technion was hacked. The hackers punished us for the ‘apartheid’ regime,” Technion wrote on its LinkedIn account.
“All systems are not accessible, and we have lost our data. Therefore, we have to temporarily stop our human resources procedures. Our most sincere apologies to all colleagues, partners and those who trust us,” the university wrote.
The hacker group, Darkb!t, demanded 80 bitcoins to release the Technion’s computer servers – the equivalent of $1,747,971, according to the Hebrew-language Walla! News site. The hackers threatened to increase the sum by 30 percent if the ransom is not paid within 48 hours.
Israel’s National Cyber Directorate (INCD) said it is trying to assist the university. “The field of higher education has been a central target for cyber attackers, with the INCD identifying 53 [significant] incidents of such attacks in 2022, most of which were prevented,” the Directorate said in a statement.
The The cyberattack on the Technion appeared to have been an Iranian response to attacks against Iranian research centers attributed to Israel, according to the IntelliTimes news outlet.
“In this case, [it targeted] what the Iranians estimate according to open publications about the relationship between the Technion and the Faculty of Aeronautics and Space Engineering and bodies such as MPAAT (the Directorate for Research and Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure).
DarkB!t reportedly began operating on February 11 – this weekend – as a group that defines itself as fighting racism and “apartheid.”
It’s not yet clear how many and which classes will be able to continue running, given the current interruption in digital services.
In the meantime, “The computing systems are undergoing maintenance and have been disconnected purposefully,” Technion said.