Websites of Israeli port hacked; Sudanese group said to claim responsibility

‘Anonymous Sudan’ said to target Haifa site and Israel Ports Development & Assets Company with DDoS denial of service assault

View of the Haifa port on July 31, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
View of the Haifa port on July 31, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

A Sudanese hacker group claimed to bring down the internet sites of two Israeli ports on Wednesday as the Jewish State celebrated its Independence Day, the Ynet website reported.

A group of hackers that goes by “Anonymous Sudan,” which has claimed other recent online assaults on Israeli sites, said it targeted the Haifa Port website and that of the Israel Ports Development & Assets Company, which manages the country’s ports.

According to the report, the attack used a DDoS or denial of access method that overwhelms a site’s servers with requests.

The Haifa port website appeared to be operating mid-morning, however, the Ports Development site was not available. There was no immediate comment from the ports on Israel’s Independence Day.

On Monday, the same group claimed to have taken down the National Insurance Institute website and that of the Mossad spy agency. The NII confirmed the attempted hack but denied it brought down its site. Mossad did not publicly respond to the claim, though it rarely issues any public statements.

“Message to Israel, we do not want any mediation from you in Sudan, put all your mediation in your ass,” the group added, referencing a report earlier in the day that Israel had offered to mediate between the currently warring factions in Sudan.

Monday’s purported attack followed a successful hacking attack by Anonymous Sudan earlier this month against Israel’s national mail service and major banks.

That 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. 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. 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.

Smoke is seen in Khartoum, Sudan, April 22, 2023, where fighting between the Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces resumed after an internationally brokered ceasefire failed. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

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

The past 12 days of urban combat in Sudan have killed hundreds, wounded thousands and sparked a mass exodus of foreigners. At least 427 people have been killed and more than 3,700 wounded, according to UN agencies. The sides agreed early Tuesday on a US-brokered 72-hour ceasefire.

Fighting erupted on April 15 between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and those of his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Citing unnamed Foreign Ministry officials, the Walla news site reported that Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and the ministry’s director-general Ronen Levy have been in direct contact with Burhan and Dagalo since the fighting erupted and urged them to reach a ceasefire.

The Foreign Ministry officials quoted in the report said neither Burhan or Dagalo ruled out Israel’s offer to host negotiations and appeared to be considering it seriously.

Israel and Sudan agreed in 2020 to normalize diplomatic ties as part of the US-backed Abraham Accords, but a final agreement has remained elusive and the fresh hostilities threaten to make the prospect of a deal even more remote.

Part of the delay in normalizing relations stemmed from a dispute between Sudan’s military and civilian leadership over whether to normalize with Israel. While Burhan had backed normalization, the effort was later put on the back burner. After Burhan and Dagalo deposed the civilian government and seized power, the US cut aid to Sudan, further setting back the initiative.

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