The cyber hacking group Anonymous has hit Israeli government websites with more than 44 million cyber attacks since that country began aerial strikes within the Gaza Strip last week. The cyber warfare specialists have claimed responsibility for causing havoc including the complete uprooting of entire sites as well as the leaking of sensitive password information – as a response to what it calls “barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment” of Palestinians by the Israeli military.
In a press release that was issued on Sunday Israel’s chief information officer Carmela Avner stated:
“The war is being fought on three fronts. The first is physical, the second is the world of social networks and the third is cyber attacks. The attackers are attempting to harm the accessibility of Israel’s government websites on an ongoing basis. When events like the current operation occur, this sector heats up and we see increased activity. Therefore, at this time, defending the governmental computer systems is of invaluable importance.”
But Israel claims that the attacks to this point have been unsuccessful for the most part, disputing the effectiveness of the Anon attacks and insisting that only one website was offline – for just 10 minutes.
“We are reaping the fruits on the investment in recent years in the development of computerized defense systems, but we have a lot of work in store for us,” Israel’s finance minister, Yuval Steinitz, said in a written statement.
Both Israel and Hamas have both been criticized recently for using social media to post photos and detailed descriptions of the conflict in an attempt to earn public support – a move which prompted Anonymous to get involved.
Anonymous claims to have taken down or severely deformed a list of over 650 Israel linked websites since the hostilities between the Israeli’s and Hamas led Palestine resumed last Wednesday but internet tech websites have varying opinions as to whether this is a real threat or if it’s just hollow high school antics that will result in little to no actual damage. Writing for the tech website Gizmodo, Casey Chan is impressed with the operation thus far:
“They’ve knocked down websites, deleted databases and have leaked e-mail addresses and passwords. It’s a whopping take down.”
But Sam Biddle, also writing for Gizmodo, thinks Anonymous is bluffing:
“Today, Anon lacks the talent and semi-cohesion it once boasted across the net, and its most recent online crusade is an embarrassing reminder. This is less a war than the hacker equivalent of egging someone’s house and then smoking weed behind a Denny’s.”
Tech blog powerhouse TheNextWeb’s opinion is a little more middle of the road:
“While the Israeli government almost certainly has backups of the aforementioned databases, these attacks as well as the defacement’s show Anonymous isn’t just doing its usual spree of overloading target sites.”
Anon claims responsibility for successfully hacking the Israeli versions of numerous Microsoft websites including Bing, Skye and MSN. On Monday morning Bing’s Israeli search engine homepage did in fact boast a anti-Israel message, proving that Anonymous had been there. A Microsoft spokesperson stated that the company was aware and was taking steps to correct the security breach and that no sensitive customer information had been exposed.
And finally, from the horses mouth, Anonymous recently posted a new threat via twitter:
“November 2012 will be a month to remember for the (Israel Defense Forces) and Internet security forces. Israeli Gov. this is/will turn into a cyberwar.”