Cyber Security

The growing risks posed by homegrown terrorism, the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel boycotts, coupled with the likelihood that Mideast tensions will continue to intensify, has given rise to a distinct and unfamiliar threat directly impacting Jewish communal security. Groups or individuals wishing to cause harm to Jewish institutions no longer require physical access. A criminal, hacker or terrorist-related group from the other side of the globe can breach an agency or synagogue computer network and silently gather its most vital information. Hackers and computer criminals now have the capacity to make digital copies of information that once filled floors of locked filing cabinets under the careful watch of staff and volunteers. Most troubling is that a theft of this nature can go undetected for years, if not indefinitely.

In terms of computer infrastructure, the country has seen marked growth in the need for heightened Cyber Security Strategy. Escalating use of information technology to improve performance; increased competitive pressures from deregulation and globalization; and fiscal demands to consolidate operations have resulted in a reduction in redundancy and reserve capacity.

The threat of cyber-terrorism will continue to grow as leadership positions in extremist organizations are increasingly filled with younger, "Internet-savvy" individuals. Most worrisome is a potential coordinated attack on national critical infrastructures. While the Canada has not yet experienced this sort of attack, it is not hard to imagine such a threat based on the intrusions we have seen to date. Cyber attacks know no national boundaries and can be devastating in scope and effect. International cooperation and information sharing is therefore critical in order to more effectively respond to this growing threat.

Cyber security involves protecting information by preventing, detecting, and responding to attacks. Unfortunately, even the strictest precautions cannot guarantee protection from every attack. However, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances.


recognize the risks and become familiar with some of the associated terminology:


Hacker, attacker or intruder - These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes fairly benign and motivated solely by curiosity, their actions typically violate the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious (stealing or altering information).

Malicious code - This category includes code such as viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses. Although some people use these terms interchangeably, they have unique characteristics. 

  • Viruses - This type of malicious code requires that you perform some action before it can infect your computer. This could be opening an email attachment or going to a particular web page.
  • Worms - Worms propagate without user intervention. They typically start by exploiting software vulnerability (a flaw that allows the software's intended security policy to be violated). Once the victim computer has been infected the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers. Similar to viruses, worms can propagate via email, web sites or network-based software. Automated self-propagation is what distinguishes worms from viruses.
  • Trojan Horses - A Trojan Horse program is software that claims to be one thing while doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending confidential information to a remote intruder.

Security tips:

  1. Protect your personal information.
  2. Know who you're dealing with online and know what you're getting into.
  3. Use anti-virus software, a firewall, and anti-spyware software and keep it up to date.
  4. Be sure to set up your operating system and Web browser software properly, and update them regularly.
  5. Use strong passwords or strong authentication technology to help protect your personal information.
  6. Back up your important files to a removable disk or drive.
  7. Make sure your family members and/or your employees know what to do if something goes wrong with your computer.
  8. Protect your children online.