Behar-Bechukotai 5777 – Cyber Security
Last weekend, there was a major breach of security as hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide were attacked by scammers who held the particular computer's data hostage to ransom. This caused enormous chaos for the NHS, among other large corporations.
A reminder of how reliant we are on technology to manage and control our lives. In addition, information is now recorded and stored on machines. Photos, banking, music, it is all managed by 'systems'.
In the modern digital age, there is no doubt that life has improved - considerably so. However, hand in hand with this blissful comfort is the ever lurking danger of disruption and disarray. Just one tiny misplaced press of a key, and our wonderful gadgets are at risk of becoming useless junk - or worse. Perfect living, but ever so vulnerable to error or manipulation.
There are a couple of interesting thoughts which come out of this saga, relating to the fundamental role that Judaism plays in our lives - as outlined so graphically in the second of the two Sidrot read this week. The one which concludes the book of Leviticus.
The first idea relates to the spread of the attack. While many innocent victims were simply fooled by the sophistication utilised by these criminals, others behaved foolishly - by allowing their curiosity and imagination to be stimulated. Emails with enticing headlines were accepted - when vigilance was called for. Attachments were opened - even as we are cautioned not to do so unless we are certain about the contents.
Gaining access to inappropriate material can be a very strong pull. The attackers know this. They are fully aware of how fragile our self-control is when it comes to alluring attractions - be it money, images or some other vice. Our inquisitive nature often causes us to take the wrong cause of action - again and again.
Next week I will explore how this mirrors life itself - and Judaism's prescription to keep safe.
RABBI MENDEL LEW