- Anonymous claims to have defaced more than 650 Israeli websites
- Israelis deny any damage, but admit suffering 60million hack attempts
- Now officer says war is fought on ‘three fronts’ – including cyber attacks
By Damien Gayle
PUBLISHED: 05:19 EST, 20 November 2012 | UPDATED: 10:55 EST, 20 November 2012
Hackers’ collective Anonymous claims it has declared ‘cyber war’ against Israel in retaliation for threats to block Palestinians’ internet access.
As the Israel Defence Forces began airstrikes against targets in the territory, the hacktivist group tried to cripple Israeli sites and government networks.
The move came as Israel admitted the war is being fought on ‘three fronts’ – including physical, social networks and cyber attacks – and triggered calls for a ‘cyberdome’ protective shield to mirror the ‘Iron dome’ missile defence system.
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Israel’s finance minister Yuval Steinitz admitted last night that the group – along with other protesters – bombarded Israeli sites with more than 60million hacking attempts.
However, he said most of the attacks failed and that the only site that was successfully brought down was up again within minutes.
Anonymous though posted a list of more than 650 Israeli websites it says it has taken down or defaced in retaliation for what it called ‘the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people’.
In a release published online the group said Israel ‘crossed a line in the sand’ when it ‘publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza’.
‘As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack learned the hard way – we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch,’ the statement added.
A subsequent YouTube video added: ‘We call on the Anonymous Collective to hack, deface, docks, hijack, database leak, admin takeover, four oh four and DNS terminate the Israeli Cyberspace by any means necessary.
‘To the Israeli Government, Anonymous has grown tired of your bullying, and now you will see the result of your actions.
‘Cyber war has been declared on Israel cyber space and you will see exactly what we are capable of.’
Following the statement, Carmela Avner, Israel’s chief information officer, admitted over the weekend that the latest war ‘is being fought on three fronts’.
‘The first is physical, the second is the world of social networks and the third is cyberattacks,’ she added. The cyber onslaught began after Israel launched warplanes began bombarding Gaza last week in retaliation for rocket fire from the strip.
Among attacks staged on Israeli networks, according to The Daily Dot, Anonymous has claimed to have deleted the database of the Bank of Jerusalem and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; they downed Israel’s MSN and defaced Windows.co.il; they have leaked personal data of 5,000 officials and the usernames and passwords to a real estate search site; and took the websites for the IDF, Mastercard and Bing offline.
The group also released what it called the Anonymous Gaza Care Package containing instructions in Arabic and English on steps to take if the Israelis shut down internet connections to the strip, as well as information on avoiding online surveillance and basic first aid.
Others have joined into what has effectively become a free-for-all attack on Israel. One group, which called itself the Pakistani Cyber Army, claimed responsibility for having hijacked roughly two dozen Israeli-registered sites, including one belonging to Coca-Cola.
One of its members, who identified himself only as a Pakistani Muslim, told The Associated Press that more was on the way.
‘We won’t stop until they stop killing innocent kids and people,’ he said.
Much of the online onslaught has come in the form of denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, a technique that works by overloading a website with traffic, crashing its servers and making it unavailable to users.
Tel Aviv-based security company Radware said the attacks against Israel first began surging across the web on Thursday, describing some as well coordinated DoS attacks.
Although such attacks can effectively knock their targets off the web, they’re usually temporary and rarely do lasting damage.
Ronen Kenig, a Radware analyst, said the flow of rogue traffic wasn’t as powerful as attacks that hit the U.S. banking sector two months ago.
‘In terms of the amount of traffic, it’s not massive,’ he said, explaining that the attackers were yet to draw on networks of infected computers – known as botnets – to mount their attacks.
Botnets are amassed by hackers and can grow to include thousands of compromised computers, giving them much more firepower than a few dozen online activists acting in tandem.
Erel Margalit, chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners, a leading Israeli venture capital firm, has invested significantly in Israel’s cybersecurity system but said more must be done.
‘Israel has the Iron Dome system (to intercept incoming rockets), but it needs a cyberdome,’ he said, noting the government just approved collaboration on the first-ever private cybersecurity incubator to further invest in the industry.
‘The start-up nation is also a cybernation, it needs to be defended, and Israel is known to be quite advanced in this field,’ he said. Israel is often called the start-up nation because of its technology companies.
Mr Kenig said his company had seen evidence the attackers were ramping up their efforts.
Technolytics Institute, a private U.S. consultancy, said Israel is prepared to confront incoming threats, rating Israel as fourth behind Russia, China, and the U.S. for cyberintelligence capabilities – not just defensive, but offensive, as well.
How do you negotiate a cease-fire with Anonymous?
Kevin Coleman, senior fellow at Technolytics, said while Israel has invested significantly in the industry, Anonymous has become a new, threatening ‘virtual state’ of sorts.
‘When you think about conflict in general, you think about borders, but the internet doesn’t have borders,’ he said. ‘So how do you retaliate against a loose coalition? How do you negotiate a cease-fire with Anonymous?
‘We’re at the tip of the iceberg in figuring out how to deal with virtual states and creating a new paradigm.
‘We need to do it quickly, though. This is the warfare of the future.’
Now watch Anonymous’s video statement
Click the link below to view the video: