Israel facing 'millions' of cyber-attacks over Gaza (Update)

November 18, 2012 by Dmitry Zaks
A picture of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building in the Mediterranean city of Tel Aviv on January 16, 2011. The Israeli government on Sunday admitted it had become the victim of a mass cyber-warfare campaign with millions of attempts to hack state websites since the start of its Gaza offensive four days ago.

Israel admitted Sunday it has been targeted in a mass cyber-warfare campaign that has witnessed millions of attempts to hack state websites since the start of its Gaza offensive four days ago.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters the government had been forced to wage war on "a second front"—of cyber attacks against Israel.

"This is an unprecedented attack," Steinitz said, indicating that Israel had "deflected 44 million cyber attacks on government websites" since it began a widespread air campaign over Gaza on Wednesday.

"All the attacks were thwarted except for one, which targeted a specific website that was down for six or seven minutes," he said.

The comments from Israel's overseer of Internet security came a day after the Anonymous online activist group claimed downing dozens of websites of state agencies and a top bank in protest over the Jewish state's deadly air assault.

It also coincides with both Israeli and Palestinian attempts to exploit the social networks to win over public opinion amid the worst outbreak of Middle East violence in four years.

Steinitz did not say who was responsible.

But he said the government had fended off almost every attack, with analysts pointing out that the Jewish state has sophisticated protection that shields its online assets.

Anonymous on Saturday claimed it had downed or erased the databases of nearly 700 Israeli sites that included the powerful Bank of Jerusalem finance house.

It also claimed to have briefly downed the foreign ministry website in protest over an alleged Israeli threat to cut Gaza's Internet access.

"For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so called 'Occupied Territories' by the Israel Defence Force," it said in a statement.

"But when the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand."

Steinitz made no direct reference to Anonymous, but stressed the Israeli government had a backup plan for "essential websites" should they be taken down.

Analysts said Israel was a frequent target of cyber-warfare even during times of peace and was therefore prepared better to deal with campaigns like the one this week.

"Nothing will happen to Israel because this attack is bound to fail," said Tal Argoni, a cyberwarfare expert at the Tel Aviv-based firm, 2BSecure.

Argoni said Israel had developed a system whereby websites which detect an attack automatically become inaccessible to foreign addresses, while operating normally for locals who are unaware that anything is wrong.

"This makes the foreigners think that their distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack was working when it really is not," Argoni said.

"And that makes them stop their DDoS attack before it has accomplished anything."

But Professor Danny Dolev of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said that much remained undiscovered about how nations waged cyberwarfare against each other.

"Right now, what we have are attacks that are a nuisance but which have to be taken care of. But, what if the entire financial system is attacked?" he asked.

"This front is still very immature and there is still a lot more to be done."

Explore further: Hackers down hundreds of Israeli sites over Gaza

Related Stories

Hackers down hundreds of Israeli sites over Gaza

November 17, 2012

Online activist group Anonymous said on Saturday it had downed the websites of dozens of Israeli state agencies and a top bank in protest over the Jewish state's deadly air assault on Gaza.

Israel denies cyber attack on defence websites

November 7, 2011

The websites of Israel's military, Mossad and the Shin Bet intelligence services were back online on Monday after being unavailable the previous day due to what officials said was a "server crash."

Hackers shut down Salvadoran ministry websites

November 7, 2011

Online "hacktivist" group Anonymous has attacked the websites of El Salvador's presidency and government ministries, forcing several to be shut down, officials said Sunday.

Israel facing 'increasing number of cyberattacks'

October 14, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel was facing an increasing number of cyberattacks, just days after Washington issued a veiled warning to Iran over digital attacks on its interests.

Recommended for you

When words, structured data are placed on single canvas

October 22, 2017

If "ugh" is your favorite word to describe entering, amending and correcting data on the rows and columns on spreadsheets you are not alone. Coda, a new name in the document business, feels it's time for a change. This is ...

Enhancing solar power with diatoms

October 20, 2017

Diatoms, a kind of algae that reproduces prodigiously, have been called "the jewels of the sea" for their ability to manipulate light. Now, researchers hope to harness that property to boost solar technology.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.5 / 5 (13) Nov 18, 2012
Anonymous terrorists and extortionists need to have Mossad agents visit some of their membership late at night. Filth.
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 18, 2012
My thoughts exactly. They got all pissy and bent out of shape by the FBI "thugs" that arrested a few members? Mossad makes the FBI look like a girl scout troop.
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2012
The growing anti-Semitism of the West has not gone unnoticed by the hacker community. There is no shortage of Quislings.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2012
Well, then, by all means --strap on and hit the road! I'm sure all three of you would be welcome additions to Israel's extraordinary fighting force.
Maybe the Mossad will assign you to special missions to go all Caveman on those dirty hackers.
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 19, 2012
Zionists are lining up on the streets of LA hoping to persuade USA to help stabilize their apartheid regime. Maybe Angelinos could sympathize given they themselves are overrun by Mexicans, but I don't see it.

The growing anti-Semitism of the West has not gone unnoticed by the hacker community.
Both Tel Aviv and Gaza residents are Semites. Which Semites are you referring to?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.