Iranians launched cyber-attack on Israel during Gaza op

Defense officials say campaign, which hacked the IDF’s Twitter account, was largest they have seen

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image of a woman using a laptop computer. (Sophie Gordon/Flash90)
Illustrative image of a woman using a laptop computer. (Sophie Gordon/Flash90)

Security establishment officials said Sunday that there was an unprecedented cyber-attack on Israel from Iran during Operation Protective Edge, including the brief hijacking of the Israel Defense Forces’ Twitter account.

The targets were mostly civilian websites and systems, rather than military or national infrastructure networks, Channel 2 reported.

A defense source said that the attack caused no significant damage and reiterated that critical systems were well protected. Nonetheless, the source added, the scale of the attack was impressive.

“In terms of the scope and kinds of targets that they tried to get to, we haven’t seen an attempt like this before,” the unnamed official said. “This time, the Iranians made a significant effort.”

The source called for the establishment of a unified cyber body inside the defense establishment, which will be better able than the current apparatus to use the resources that Israel possesses to defend itself.

He also suggested a thorough review of the access to information sites — such as that of the IDF Spokesperson, the Home Front Command, and the IDF’s Twitter account — to prevent hijacking of accounts such as those that took place during the fighting.

At the beginning of July, the IDF’s Twitter account sent out a fake message reporting that two rockets from Gaza had hit the Dimona nuclear reactor and had caused a leak. The message was followed by another reading “Long live Palestine.” Within minutes, the IDF regained control of the account and published an apology.

In January, an Israeli cybersecurity expert claimed that Israel was subjected to an attack via email messages infected with a virus that enabled hackers to take control of computers. One of the machines that fell victim was in the Defense Ministry, he said.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to stem rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and destroy a network of tunnels dug by Hamas under the border, which were used by terrorists to infiltrate Israel.

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