Israel braces for massive cyber-offensive

Experts predict major DDoS attack on country’s largest websites in hacking effort coordinated by Anonymous

A previous Anonymous' Op-Israel banner (photo credit: screenshot)
A previous Anonymous' Op-Israel banner (photo credit: screenshot)

Hackers around the world are plotting to strike Israel’s online presence in a coordinated cyber-attack later this week. The effort, known as “OpIsrael,” which is being organized by hacktivist group Anonymous, aims to target the 100 largest websites in the country, especially those of banks, credit card companies, and communications firms.

The attack is scheduled to take place Sunday, April 7. That evening, Israel begins to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

According to “Mauritania Attacker,” who leads a group of hackers called AnonGhost, “the hacking teams have decided to unite against Israel as one entity, and Israel should be getting prepared to be ‘erased’ from the Internet.”

“Its gonna be the biggest ever operation launched against any country, Its gonna be Huge [sic]!” said Mauritania Attacker in an interview to The Hackers Post.

Shai Blitzblau, CEO of Maglan Information Defense Technologies Research, told the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom Tuesday that the attackers’ skills are increasing all the time, but have yet to reach previously unseen levels.

Experts have warned that in addition to mounting a major Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, similar to the one that was recently released to the web by hosting company Cyberbunker and which has caused a worldwide slowdown in Internet speed, the hackers will also try to plant “Trojan horses” infecting web users with viruses.

Uri Rivner, head of cyber strategy at BioCatch, recommended that Israelis avoid accessing threatened websites for a few days, giving their owners time to make sure no malicious codes were installed.

Hacktivist group Anonymous plans a coordinated attack on Israel's cyber space Friday, March 7 (photo credit: Twitter)
Hacktivist group Anonymous plans a coordinated attack on Israel’s cyber space Friday, April 7 (photo credit: Twitter)

The first OpIsrael cyber-attacks were launched by the Anonymous hacktivist group during Israel’s November operation Pillar of Defense against terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Anonymous-affiliated hackers attacked over 700 Israeli websites, with Israel deflecting 44 million cyber-attacks on government websites.

“We are Anonymous. We are legion. We will not forgive. We will not forget. Israel, it is too late to expect us,” their message to Israeli authorities read.

Last week, Anonymous and affiliates proclaimed they had broken into the Mossad’s servers and stolen the names and personal details of top IDF officials, politicians and, especially, Mossad agents. Reports on several hacker websites said that Anonymous, along with the Turkish group The Red Hack and the Arab group Sector404, both of which are allied with Anonymous, managed to break into the Mossad’s public website and steal several Excel spreadsheets containing the details of over 34,000 “Mossad agents.” The files ostensibly list names of the alleged agents, email addresses (private and work), home addresses, and other identification information.

Israel is not the only country in the Middle East under hack attack; there are plenty of hackers targeting Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other countries in the region. Many of the messages on the hacks on Egyptian and Syrian sites are political, condemning the regimes in those countries for abuses against their citizens. In Syria, “Zone-h” recorded dozens of hacks daily, most of them condemning Bashar Assad for his attacks against civilians in the civil war between his army and rebel forces. But those attacks leveled off in late November, when Syria announced it was “closing” the Internet in the country. The few hackers who have managed to upend sites since then have promised revenge on Assad for cutting off one of their main forms of protest.

David Shamah contributed to this report.

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