During the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, terrorist rocket attacks and Israel’s defensive measures dominated the headlines. But a different sort of battle also raged simultaneously behind the scenes: cyber war.
This virtual front forced the Jewish state to defend itself from literally millions of attempts by hackers to attack the Israeli government’s computer system.
The following special issue of Homeland Security Monitor highlights this emerging threat increasingly facing the United States and Israel.
Just as Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement last month, electronic hacking attempts against Israeli and Palestinian sites rose 2,500 percent, Venture Beat reported. CloudFlare, a content delivery network that runs up to five percent of the Internet and provides protection against hackers, quickly signed high-profile customers that included the Israeli Army, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various Palestinian networks looking to shield their digital infrastructure. “When the war stopped in the physical world is when it really started in the electronic world,” said CloudFlare executive Matthew Prince.
Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense in mid-November, hackers have attempted more than 44 million attacks on the Israeli government’s computer systems, The Times of Israel reported. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the hackers “are trying to disable the symbols of Israeli sovereignty.” While one Israeli site was “wobbly for a few minutes,” Israel defeated every single hacking attempt.
The hacking group Anonymous ambushed Israeli websites in retaliation for Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza, the BBC reported. The group targeted the Israel Defense Forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, banks, airlines, and other important infrastructure sites. U.S. intelligence officials say Iran may be behind the attacks.
An anti-Israel group known as Parastoo has hacked the server of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the BBC reported. The group posted contact details for more than 100 nuclear experts on the group’s website and asked those listed to sign a petition calling for an IAEA investigation into Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons program. The stolen data are not believed to include any confidential information, but the IAEA is taking additional precautions to prevent future incidents.
An anti-Israel group called ZCompanyHackingCrew (ZHC) has hacked into Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom’s social media accounts and claims to have accessed his email account, Reuters reported. The group plans to release private documents from Shalom’s email account and has posted anti-Israel statements on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. The actual identity of those responsible for ZHC is still unknown.