Israel Braces for 'Electronic Holocaust'

Monday, April 06, 2015 |  Israel Today Staff

The following is a press release from Israel's Institute for National Security Studies:

For the past several years, on April 7, groups of extremist hackers have targeted Israeli government domains and companies. This year, in Operation-Israel 2015, they are threatening Israeli banks and military websites promising to carry out an “electronic Holocaust.”

The largest hacker group, AnonGhost, which is affiliated with the global hacker group Anonymous, is set to attack Israel for the third straight year. The group ostensibly conducts these cyber-attacks in order to avenge Israeli actions in Gaza.

“These groups call themselves anonymous, but in reality the Op-Israel hackers responsible for the actions are mostly from the Middle East, with connections to our local conflict, according to Daniel Cohen, a research associate at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Cyber Warfare program. “The hackers are mostly Muslims from Gaza, Syria, Morocco and other countries in our region. As a group they generally oppose the establishment and are influenced by various radical Islamist and terrorist movements, who also drive them towards attacking Israel.”

The hackers usually upload Arabic songs and communicate directly to pro-Israeli visitors.

According to Col. Gabi Siboni, head of the INSS Cyber Security Program, “The terror challenges facing Israel and the West are not only physical, but cyber as well. Israel is confronting these threats from Shiite Hezbollah and from Sunni Hamas on a daily basis. They are sophisticated and becoming more so. There is no question that in due course, the United States and other Western countries will face the same threats as Israel from these groups as well as from ISIS, if they are not already. ISIS is particularly adept at using the world-wide web to further its goals. But it is not only terrorist groups that perpetuate cyber attacks, nations do so as well and the need for cyber-security responses are growing exponentially."

These types of issues and others will be discussed at the US-Israel Defensive Cyberspace Operations & Intelligence (DCOI) conference to be held April 27 – 28 in Washington, DC. The conference is an Israeli - American partnership which seeks to promote informed public debate on cyber-net security and international collaborations in the technological, intelligence and policy-making domains.

On April 7, Israel could expect to see attacks on Israeli government websites and various private sites. The attackers may release Israeli credit card details online, although the information will likely be probably be previously stolen and not on the day of the attack. Hackers may also try to attack users through e-mail messages or text messages to private cellular phones. According to Daniel Cohen, about a hundred hackers participated in the previous attacks.

The who support Op-Israel 2015 are capable of penetrating web applications like Drupal, Joomla and WordPress but there are some, albeit small in number within the Operation Israel hacking teams who are capable of performing advanced attacks on specific targets and inflicting real damage, financial and otherwise, said Cohen.

The INSS Cyber program experts suggest that organizations upgrade their servers, perform backups, never open emails from unfamiliar sources and monitor activities on their website. Private citizens should consider changing simple passwords to more complex ones and never open unidentified e-mails.

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