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Israel Cyber Networks Targeted by Hackers

Common Dreams staff

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks past an El Al Israel Airlines logo at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv,in this file picture taken August 22, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Files)

Israel's cyber infrastructure came under attack on Monday as a hacker, or hackers, targeted  the Tel Aviv stock exchange, several banks, and El Al Airlines.

The Los Angeles Time reports today:

REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- The website for Tel Aviv's stock exchange was shut down for hours on Monday after a hacker who identified himself as a Saudi announced that a pro-Palestinian group called Nightmare had targeted the site.

El Al Airline, also named by the hacker OxOmar as a target, preemptively closed down its own website, directing visitors to a page with a statement that it was under maintenance. In addition, problems were reported on the sites of a few small Israeli banks.

Monday's incidents were the latest in a series of attacks on Israeli websites kicked off earlier this month by a hacker who snagged thousands of credit card numbers from a poorly protected site associated with an online shopping business.

And Ynet News in Israel also reports:

The Saudi hacker known as "0xOmar" vowed Monday that the cyber attacks on Israel will only grow stronger.

"0xOmar" told Ynet via email that he has teemed up with "Nightmare," a group of pro-Palestinian hackers that have claimed responsibility for shutting down the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al's websites earlier Monday.

The group, he said, also tampered with Bank Massad's website. "A lot of Arab hackers decided to join us and we are managing a private channel together," he said.

He explained that the websites were chosen because of their great number of users, adding that the group intends to target other strategic Israeli websites.

"I want to hurt/harm Israel in any way possible. I can harm them in Cyber world so I would do anything for this world. I'll let Israeli authorities cry and suffer," (sic) he said.

Meanwhile, the banking system is considering blocking online access for overseas users over the recent series of cyber attacks on financial websites. First International Bank of Israel (Fibi) and Israel's Discount Bank have already applied the limitation as a precautionary measure.

Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip, welcomed the attack, though there was no evidence or suggestion that they played any role in its planning or execution.  Agence France-Presse reported:

The cyber attacks were hailed by Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas rulers, who said it was "a sign of the Arab youth's creativity in inventing new forms of Arab and Islamic resistance against the Israeli occupation.

"Hamas praises the Arab hackers and calls on the Arab youth to play their role in cyberspace in the face of Israeli crimes," he said.

All this goes to confirm what many observers have long predicted; that is, the growing role of cyber warfare in political and international disputes.  Israel, for its part, is building its own hacking forces within the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). As the Jerusalem Post recently reported:

The IDF is assembling elite teams of computer hackers to lead the nation’s cyber-warfare efforts. [...]

Last month, the army recruited close to 300 young computer experts, many of them without college or even high-school degrees. [...]

The new soldiers will serve in Military Intelligence as well as in the C4I Directorate, the two military branches responsible for cyber-warfare in the IDF.

C4I stands for command, control, communications, computers, and (military) intelligence.


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