Hacker group brings down Israeli postal, banking and telecom websites

Collective calling itself ‘Anonymous Sudan,’ but thought linked to Russia, takes responsibility for assault; authorities say interruptions swiftly dealt with and no data breached

Illustrative: Programming scripts on a computer monitor. (Motortion/iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative: Programming scripts on a computer monitor. (Motortion/iStock by Getty Images)

A hacker group attacked the websites of Israel’s national mail service and major banks Friday, briefly bringing them down in an assault seemingly timed to coincide with a day of Iranian-promoted anti-Israel events.

The attack was quickly squelched, authorities said, with apparently no significant harm or data leaks, though the websites of two telecoms and more banks later went down, indicating that the cyber assault was not over.

The attack was claimed by a group of hackers that goes by “Anonymous Sudan,” according to Hebrew media reports, citing a telegram message posted by the shadowy collective.

The National Cyber Directorate said the site for Israel’s national mail service was back up and running after a few minutes. Bank Mizrachi’s page was down for half an hour, it said.

The attacks only caused “occasional interruptions,” it said.

The directorate noted that the hackers did not gain access to internal documents or files, but merely the customer-facing interface.

“The attempts are limited to marketing websites and are unrelated to the bank’s internal systems,” it said.

A short time later the websites for the HOT cable service provider and 012 mobile carrier went down, with the group claiming responsibility for those as well.

The attacks coincided with the marking of Quds Day, an Iran-promoted event featuring virulently anti-Israel marches and rallies in Tehran and elsewhere.

Iranian demonstrators burn a representation of the Israeli flag in their rally to mark Jerusalem Day, an annual show of support for the Palestinians, in Tehran, Iran, April 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Demonstrators in the Iranian capital marched on Friday from 10 different directions to Tehran University’s campus, where the ceremony ended in time for Friday noon prayers.

Iranian state TV showed footage of similar rallies in other cities and towns across the country. Many demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and the banner of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. Demonstrators in some places set fire to American and Israeli flags, as well as effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hackers have used the occasion of Quds Day to attack Israeli institutions in the past.

In recent months, Anonymous Sudan has claimed several short-lasting attacks on government services, healthcare and other operations in European countries. Some experts have speculated they may be linked to Russia’s Killnet hacking group rather than Sudan.

It often claims to target places in retaliation for anti-Muslim activity.

On Wednesday, the group took down the websites of hospitals in Hyderabad, India, using a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack, which temporarily overwhelms a website’s servers.

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