Israel under a cyber warfare escalation

Pierluigi Paganini January 17, 2012

This week has began under worse auspices worse for Israel, which, despite its attention to the cyber threats posed by cyber-space, has been victim of a series of attacks that have checkmated the government of Jerusalem.

Israel is facing with a true escalation in cyberwar, not identified attackers have in fact pulled down two principal national web sites, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al, the national airline.

The attackers have used a DDoS attack saturating in a short time the resouces of the web sites making sites inaccessible. The situation has been restored within few hours.  Unfortunately defend against such attacks is not easy despite the offensive has not come unexpected, in fact an hacker named oxOmar, notorious for posting the details of more than 20,000 Israeli credit cards, has alerted the media on the incoming attacks by a group of pro-Palestinian cyberattackers called Nightmare.

The Web sites were accessed by an abnormal number of requests simultaneously interrupting the service erogation.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group based in Gaza, is working to make attacks on new fronts equally offensive. We must consider that Israel is one of the more technological nation considered advanced on cyber security.

But the attacks on crucial systems have not ended here, just yesterday in fact the Israeli Banking system has been under attack. It was blocked and hundreds of its clients were unable to access to its services. The attack schema is the same, simple and effective, a DDos attacks made by the group “nightmare” already author of the attacks to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and to El Al, the national airline.  The group “nightmare” has joined forces with the Saudi Hacker 0xOmar in what they are calling a jihadist hackers group. The media reports that banking system is near to take drastic measures to protect the infrastructures even at the cost of displeasing its customers.

The perceived threat is high and must deploy every means to counter it. The battle is tough because these groups of cyber terrorists are refining the techniques of attack and the thing that most concerns is their organizzation in a united front hardly contain.

According to experts in the field despite a significant offensive capabilities, Israel is still too vulnerable. It is necessary to define a strategy for cyber defense capable of providing protection to the main critical infrastructures of the country. Do not forget that these infrastructures are those that have proved more vulnerable to events such as the one we are discussing. Nuclear sites, medical facilities, telecommunications networks are prime targets for such attacks.4

What is interesting is that just last week the Israeli Defense Ministry has declared that the government will establish a special cyber warfare administration.

The new administration will coordinate the efforts of security agencies and the Israeli defense industry in developing advanced systems to deal with cyber warfare. The event occurred have demonstated the urgency of this new re organizzation to be prepared to the next attacks.

Every day hundreds of cyber attacks are launched on Israel, and that the number may increase to thousands in an emergency. Overnight Thursday, hackers broke into the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website put up anti-Israel text and images.
Earlier this week victim of an attack was the Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. Ayalon’s site was itself breached by hackers, who but didn’t manage to do much more than put a 30-minute dent in the site’s defenses. Ayalon’s site was back up and running normally within half an hour.
The main actions that the government of Jerusalem intends to take are appointing a national consultant on cyber threats, the creation of national headquarters to monitor the implementation of the cyber strategy and the foundation of excellence centers skilled in cyber security that are able to define and implement defence action to protect critical infrastructures.

Pierluigi Paganini



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