On April 7, the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, a joint team of international hackers led by Hactivist Anonymous has threatened, on Facebook and other websites, to try and erase Israel from the internet. A hacker known as Anon Ghost initiated the event on Facebook and called it OpIsrael.
The campaign was launched in March in order to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Anonymous will also be joined by several other Hactivist groups such as Sector404 and RedHack. The group has claimed that they have hacked into the Mossad’s website and accessed classified information, which was then leaked online. Analysts believe that the hackers will attempt to enter into Israeli government websites, as well as banks and credit card companies within Israel.
The branches of the Israeli military including the Israeli Air Force have been training to stop and respond appropriately to computer attacks. “Protecting our systems is the most important mission of the force” said the IAF Head of the Aerial Formation who attended a meeting of high ranking Israeli military officials to discuss cyber attacks.
Andre Oboler, the CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute, upon researching the subject asserted that he has uncovered over 1350 targets ranging from research organizations like NGO Monitor to the Histadrut. The Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Israeli Finance Ministry, the Israeli Judiciary, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Knesset, and many other websites are going to be targets. In fact, even left wing organizations like the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is also expected to be hit by the hackers. Oboler claims that in addition to the 110 government servers, the hackers plan to go after 318 academic servers, 582 company websites, and 448 organizations. Oboler believes that the Israeli government websites should be able to withstand the challenge, yet there is a real danger to human rights and civic organizations that rely on shared servers.
According to Oboler, “Over a year ago I warned that Iran was impersonating Anonymous in an effort to turn it on Israel. Evidence from Facebook show a number of specific hacking groups behind the April 7th threat are Iranian backed and some are thought to have Iranian state sponsorship. These groups include the Iranian Cyber Army, Remember Emad (a joint project sources in Lebanon and state backing) and Parastoo (which reportedly has ties to IRGC-QF and Hezbollah). In the case of Parastoo direct mention is made of psychological warfare and of efforts to advertise the attack in advance with the aim of spreading chaos and pushing Israeli actors into taking preventative action that causes further disruption.”
Shai Blitzblau, CEO of Maglan Information Defense Technologies Research, proclaimed, “Cyber attacks worldwide are becoming more powerful every day, but the [coming] attack won’t be substantially different from what we’ve seen before. The hackers are likely to target the top 100 Israeli websites and they will probably try introducing Trojan horses into their servers, to infect as many users as possible.” Regardless, the IDF is gearing up for an increased level of cyber attacks and has set up a war room to monitor repeated attempts to hack into the IDF’s computer system.
In the past, Anonymous attacked Israeli government websites 44 million times. Some 700 Israeli websites have already thus fallen victim to cyber attacks in the past. In September 2012, it was revealed that hackers have targeted the Israel Electronics Corporation between 10,000 and 20,000 times per day. In early 2012, hackers also hacked into Bank Hapoelim and Bank Leumi, as well as three major Israeli credit card companies and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Thus, the only thing that makes this effort different is that various forces have united in order to execute a concerted cyber attack on Israel.
During and since the mini-war with Hamas this past November, United with Israel has been under constant cyber-attack. Significant funds have been invested in protecting our on-line properties but more funds are needed.