The war between Israel and its Arab neighbors has taken an unexpected turn. After hackers shut down two prominent Israeli websites, Arab and Israeli hackers have taken the war online by taking down each other’s websites. Cyber security experts are keeping a close eye on how this cyberwar continues and if it spills over the border battle ground. Cyber Security jobs are sure to see more interest as situations like this boil over into cyber war meltdown.
One of the first attacks came early in January from a hacker using the name “oxOmar,” who published thousands of credit card numbers from Israeli cardholders, 15,000 of them active. A short time later, a hacker using the name Omer Cohen released 400 credit card numbers and expiration dates from Saudi Arabian cardholders, but not the three-digit security code required to purchase goods online.
On January 16, hackers shut down the websites for El Al, Israel’s national airline, and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange after an anonymous network of hackers carried out their threats. Israeli Bank retaliated by blocking IP addresses from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Algeria to protect their databases while Discount Bank and Bank Leumi blocked all international access.
According to Ynet News, the group that took credit for the attacks, a group of pro-Palestinian hackers calling themselves “nightmare group,” did so after Hamas’ senior spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, called for attacks on Israeli websites as part of what he called “a new field of resistance and the beginning of an electronic war against Israeli occupation.”
Investigators found the attacks originated from computers in Israel using remote assailants. Gil Shwed, founder of Check Point Software Technologies, pointed this out, telling Haaretz, “A considerable part of the computers that attacked us originated in Israel. That’s precisely what a bot is. Unlike traditional viruses, these bots do a good job of hiding themselves, which is why we developed the anti-bot.” Amichai Shulman, chief technology officer of Imperva, a US security firm with an Israeli branch, told Ars Technica, “it seems that this was a very standard distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.”
In retaliation to the attacks on the El Al and TASE websites, a pro-Israel hacker calling himself “Hannibal” obtained the personal information of 20,000 allegedly Arab Facebook users and posted it online. In addition, he claimed to have email account details for 30 million other Arab Facebook users as well as 10 million bank accounts and four million credit card accounts from Arabs.
The war escalated on January 19 when pro-Palestinian hackers attacked the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority website the messages “Death to Israel” and “Gaza hackers were here.” The following morning, a group calling itself “IDF Team” attacked the websites of the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange and the United Arab Emirates Stock exchange.
On January 21, Hannibal attacked again, releasing personal information for 100,000 more Arabs. He later posted a message stating, “If they appear again, I again come to save Israel. Trust me. I’ll always be around.”
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