Hacktivist group Anonymous has launched a second massive cyber attack against Israel, dubbed #OpIsrael. The collective threatens to “disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace” in protest over its mistreatment of Palestinians.
Dozens of Israeli websites were unavailable as of early Sunday.
In a video message posted on YouTube, Anonymous said that on April 7, “elite cyber-squadrons from around the world have decided to unite in solidarity with the Palestinian people against Israel as one entity to disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace.”
Addressing the Israeli government, the group stated: “You have NOT stopped your endless human right violations. You have NOT stopped illegal settlements. You have NOT respected the ceasefire. You have shown that you do NOT respect international law.”
Earlier on Saturday, an Anonymous affiliated group identifying itself as The N4m3le55 cr3w announced that they “have gathered 600 websites and 100 plus servers we will be attacking” throughout Israel. The list includes banks, schools, businesses and a host of prominent government websites. “That is just our targets,” the group warned.
“We cannot speak on what the rest of Anonymous will be attacking but we can guarantee it will be in the 1000′s.”
The massive cyber attack falls on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. Anonymous has accused the Israeli government of mistreating its own citizens, violating treaties, attacking its neighbors, threatening to shut down the Internet in Gaza and ignoring “repeated warnings” about human rights abuses.
“The estimations are that [the cyber-attacks] will reach an unusual level that we have never seen before,” Deputy Information Security Officer Ofir Cohen said in an e-mail sent to Knesset employees on Thursday, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Cohen added that the E-government – the Israeli government’s information security body – and the Knesset’s internet service provider (ISP) are working to block the attack.
On Wednesday, thousands of Israeli Facebook users were infected by a virus, although its effects at this point appear to be minimal.
On Friday, Israeli radio reported that scores of large organizations had closed their websites to shield them from hacker attacks.
Despite the impending threat, Lior Tabansky, a fellow at the Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology, and Security of Tel Aviv University, told the Times of Israel that distributed denial of service (DDos) attacks, which work by overwhelming targeted servers with traffic which stems from multiple systems, are the only tool at the hackers’ disposal.
“Unless they have names and passwords, [DDoS] is really their only attack strategy. Unfortunately, there is little a company can do to stop it, but it is not the major cyber-threat many people, especially in the media, believe it to be. It’s more of an annoyance, and if they do manage to intimidate sites into submission, the victory will be one of public relations.” However, other experts have warned that the hackers may attempt to deploy malware such as “Trojan horses”, which can steal information and harm host computer systems.
Anonymous launched the first ‘OpIsrael’ cyber-attacks in November 2012 during Operation Pillar of Defense, an eight day Israeli Defense Force (IDF) incursion into the Gaza s trip.
Some 700 Israeli website suffered repeated DDos attacks, which targeted high-profile government systems such as the Foreign Ministry, the Bank of Jerusalem, the Israeli Defence Ministry, the IDF blog, and the Israeli President’s official website.
The Israeli Finance Ministry reported an estimated 44 million unique attacks on government websites over a four day period.
Following ‘OpIsrael,’ Anonymous posted the online personal data of 5,000 Israeli officials, including names, ID numbers and personal emails.
The group also took part in an attack in which the details of some 600,000 users of the popular Israeli email service Walla were released online.