Newsday: ADL NY/NJ’s Scott Richman Op-Ed ‘Protecting our schools from cyberhate’

  • January 28, 2021

In response to the recent hacking of North Shore Hebrew Academy’s website, ADL New York/New Jersey’s Regional Director, Scott Richman wrote an op-ed on how to protect schools from cyberhate.

The recent hacking of the North Shore Hebrew Academy’s website in Great Neck is a reminder that anti-Semitic threats against our nation’s Jewish institutions are not just physical in nature. Cyberattacks against the Jewish community have long been a weapon in the arsenal of anti-Semites and extremists.

In the era of coronavirus, this threat is growing more serious by the day. Jewish community institutions, such as day schools, are particularly susceptible to incursions by hate-motivated cyber-intruders. Unlike major corporations, they do not have the infrastructure necessary to harden their networks and systems against cyberattacks or to respond adequately as these threats arise.

So, at a time when synagogues and day schools have largely moved from in-person services and classes to online, virtual events, what can be done to ensure that our institutions have the protections necessary to ensure that hatemongers, hackers and other bad actors are effectively kept out?

At ADL, we have been working on this issue for some months. In the aftermath of the Zoombombing incident where a white supremacist interrupted a webinar about anti-Semitism hosted by a Massachusetts Jewish student group — pulling down his shirt collar to reveal a swastika tattoo on his chest — our Center for Technology and Society reached out to Zoom and provided some suggestions for improving their technology to ensure that extremists were unable to disrupt such virtual events. Those recommendations were adopted, as Zoom implemented various software upgrades that have since been effective in helping to reduce unwanted party crashers.

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