After the ceasefire of the 21st of November, the cyber attacks against Israel, executed in name of OpIsrael, have come to a break.
The contemporaneous ceasefire in the real world and in the cyber space has confirmed the two dimensional nature of this conflict. A conflict in which even the social media played a crucial role: IDF chose Twitter to make the first official announcement of the airstrike that killed Ahmed Al-Jaabari, and subsequently during the stages of operation Pillar of Defence Twitter has been intensively used by the two opposite factions for actions of propaganda, psyops, and even to divulge official news of the war operations.
Since the Ion Cannons are not shooting, this is the best moment to analyze the cyber attacks. At this purpose, in the following table I tried to summarize the timeline of the main events that have characterized this operation (and in general all the cyber attacks executed against Israel since the 14th of November).
Of course I do not pretend to be exhaustive: more than 44 million of cyber attacks in a week are impossible to enumerate singularly.
It is really interesting to notice the growing role of “Cyber-Propaganda” inside the Cyber War (yes, now we are authorized to use this term after this statement) that the Anonymous collective has declared against Israel.
On one side the cyber-attacks are escalating. After the list of 700 websites defaced or totally deleted (including the databases of The Bank Of Jerusalem and the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs), in the last hours the hacktivists have dumped a list of donors for the Unity Coalition for Israel (“the largest network of pro-Israel groups in the world”), hacked and defaced the Israeli Bing, MSN, Skype, Live websites, and leaked information of 5000 Israeli Officials.
On the other side, Israeli officials are downplaying the impact of the attacks claiming that “Anonymous’ Massive Cyber Campaign has been a flop”. According to the Israeli Finance Minister, Yuval Steinitz, on the wake of the dramatic events of Gaza, Israel has been hit by 60 million of hacking attempts (“normally” Israel faces hundreds of attacks every day). The minister also claimed that all of the attacks have been mitigated, except one that has been able to knock a website offline for only 10 minutes.
Looks like the two contenders are representing two completely different scenarios.
The way in which the two contenders are representing the same events confirms that the battlefront is completely two-dimensional even considering the actions of propaganda which now also include the reports of the cyber-operations. Maybe in this case the Israeli situation in the cyber-plane is pretty much different (and pretty much complicated) since it has not a single state (or a finite number of states) to counter-attack, but a huge widespread network of “volunteers” which is practically impossible to strike.
The Israeli Cyber Space is under attack by Anonymous hackers in retaliation for the Israeli operation “Pillar of Defence“. The military operation began on Wednesday with the killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the commander of the military wing of Hamas, whose car has been hit by an Israeli Missile
If Hamas’s armed wing, immediately after the attack, replied that “The occupation has opened the gates of hell”, the ongoing wave of cyber-attacks against Israeli sites initiated by the Anonymous collective (under the so-called OpIsrael), has analogously opened the gates of hell in the cyber-space.
So far the Anonymous claim that more than 660 websites have been defaced and nearly 90 completely deleted (including the Bank Of Jerusalem), and the list keeps on growing as the cyber-offensive continues (just follow the #OpIsrael hashtag on Twitter). Israel is suffering a growing number of DDoS and SQLi attacks against governmental, retail, and business targets resulting in sites down, data dump and, in the worst cases, databases completely erased. Interestingly, this wave of cyber-attacks has also deserved the attention of the “semi-official” Iranian news agency Fars News, which has dedicated an article to the Anonymous Hacks.
In the past four days, Israel claims to have deflected 44 million cyber-attacks.
Definitely the cyber-space is the fifth domain of war and this sad circumstance is confirming this assertion, not so much for the cyber-attacks (Anonymous cannot be considered an army), but mostly for other aspects typical of real wars that has been applied to the cyber-space.
In response to the Israeli threat to cut Internet off from Gaza, the Anonymous have put together the Anonymous Gaza Care Package a kind of first-aid kit containing instructions in Arabic and English to survive an Internet teardown and to evade IDF surveillance.
On the opposite side, the Israeli Defence Force has released a tool on its blog, called IDF Ranks, that rewards with badges frequent visitors who interact with the site. The scope, according to IDF, is “to help fight the misinformation about Israel and the IDF online”. A clear attempt to use the cyber-space for propaganda.
Another week of Cyber War in the Middle East…
Another week in which pro Israeli hackers seem to have disappeared, and hence have apparently left the scene to Pro Palestine hackers, although not so many high-profile actions have been reported in this period. The only exception to this schema is represented by Mauritania Hacker Team who dumped 4000 login accounts from Microsoft Israel Dynamics CRM Online website. This action is particularly significant… Not because it targeted a Cloud service, and not even because it targeted a Microsoft Cloud Service, but most of all because on the wake of the multiple dumps performed by Pro Arab hackers against Israel (among which the dump to the Microsoft Cloud Service was only the latest), the Israel’s Justice Ministry has releases guidelines forbidding unnecessary collection of personal national identification numbers. This is the first time in which the aftermath of a Cyber War has direct implications on everyday life.
From this point of view the wars fought on the cyber domain are completely different from the wars fought on the real world… In the cyber battlefield the civilians are the primary targets (since they have their personal data dumped) and not collateral victims…
Christmas has just gone and here it is my personal way to wish you a Happy New Year: the second part of my personal chart (first part here) of Main 2011 Cyber Attacks covering the time window from August to November 2011 (December is not yet finished, and featuring remarkable events, so expect an update very soon). This memorable year is nearly over and is time, if you feel nostalgic, to scroll down the second part of the list to review the main Cyber Events that contributed, in my opinion, to change the landscape and the rules of the (information security) game. Many events in this period among whom, IMHO, the most noticeable is the one carried on against Diginotar. Since then our trust in conventional authentication models is not (and will not be) the same anymore.
Of course this is my personal selection. Suggestions are well accepted and if you need more details about the cyber events in 2011, feel free to consult my 2011 Cyber Attacks Master Index. As usual after the page break you find all the references…