Press Release

ADL Alerts U.S. Synagogues to Protect Against Online Hackers

New York, NY, October 14, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has issued a security alert to Jewish institutions across the country concerning a potential uptick in the number of online attacks by foreign hackers targeting the websites of synagogues and other Jewish organizations, which could compromise synagogue membership lists and financial data.

The latest attack was reported last week. As Jews were celebrating the festival holiday of Sukkot, a hacker group calling itself “Team System Dz” attacked the website of a South Florida synagogue, redirecting visitors to a page with messages expressing support for the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

ADL’s security alert urges synagogues and other Jewish communal institutions to ensure their websites are secure and important online data, such as membership lists, is protected behind secure firewalls.

“Jewish websites in the U.S. have become a common target for hacker groups in the Arab and Muslim world,” said Oren Segal, Director of ADL’s Center on Extremism. “While past hacking efforts against Jewish institutions have mainly focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the more recent attacks are being carried out in the name of the Islamic State.”

The attack on the synagogue server in Florida was just one of a series of incidents reported in 2014. Jewish synagogues in Houston and Pennsylvania also have been targeted. And those foreign-based hacker groups taking responsibility for the attacks are vowing to strike again.

“Team System Dz,” for one, has bragged about its “hacks of Jewish websites especially the website of the Miami Temple” on its Facebook page. The apparently Algeria-based group is now threatening additional attacks against American and Israeli websites.

Other hacker groups such as “aljyyosh” (“the armies” in Ara­bic) claim to have hacked into per­sonal infor­ma­tion belong­ing to Amer­i­can Jews and Israelis and pro­vided instruc­tions on how to hack into such per­sonal infor­ma­tion on their var­i­ous online forums.