On Monday, the websites of vital Israeli businesses like the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Airlines, and three Israeli banks were subject to denial of service attacks. Those attacks followed weeks of cyber warfare from hackers claiming to be pro-Palestinian. A Saudi hacker who operates under the pseudonym OxOmar, for example, published the credit card information of thousands of Israeli citizens online.
Now, in retaliation, a group of Israeli hackers who by the moniker IDF-TEAM (named after the country’s military, the Israeli Defense Force) has gone after the Saudi Arabia.
Here’s the rub, however, yesterday’s attacks on Israel were more of a political statement than an actual menace. Neither stock trading nor air travel was affected. “These are not particularly sophisticated attacks,” Benji Portnoy, an information security specialist with Symantec told Public Radio International. “They’re actually the kind of attacks that can be done pretty easily.”
The IDF-TEAM, on the other hand, reportedly “paralyzed” the Saudi Stock Exchange website Tadawul and “caused significant delays” to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), according to Haaretz. [Update: The Financial Times reports a slightly different story, saying the results of the Israeli attack were unclear. Users trying to access Tadawul were told late Tuesday the page could not load. ADX "was still accessible, though it appeared to take longer than normal to load."
The IDF-TEAM called the anti-Israeli attacks "pathetic" and threatened that if they continue, their unit will “move to the next stage and paralyze websites for a period of two weeks to a month."
And it doesn't look like the anti-Israeli hacks are stopping. A pro-Palestinian Twitter handle called @anonymouSabu tweeted out a link to a cyber-crime archive with the words, "Anti-Israeli hacks exploding." That was followed shortly after with a response to a hacker named @Hitcher_ (who may be the same "hitcher" in the screenshot above). "I'm glad the paki hack scene coming back. missed it :)," read @anonymousSabu's tweet. Awww? Also, wouldn't "Paki" (short for Pakistani) mean the attacks on Saudi Arabia are misplaced?
We reached out to BillGuard founder Yaron Samid, who is spending the week at his startup's R&D offices in Israel. "I don't think any tech companies were effected," he wrote by email to Betabeat. "No one saw this coming but no one is surprised. Cyber thieves are always one step ahead of the good guys. It's really important that people stay vigilant."
Vigilant is one word to describe the pro-Israeli hacking contingent. Worrisome is another. Early today, a hacker who goes by Hannibal published a list of 30,000 email addresses and Facebook passwords of "helpless Arabs," in retaliation.
Hannibal also claims to possess 30 million email address and passwords of other Arab citizens. If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares a cyber war, Hannibal wrote that he will leak details of 10 million bank accounts and 4 million Arab credit cards, reports Haaretz.
"I noticed that poor intelligence of 0x omar and his friends [sic],” he wrote on pastebin.com, the same site used by the Saudi hacker. “State of Israel, not to worry, you’re in the hands of the world’s best hacker that I am [sic],” Hannibal reassured. “I will continue to support the government of Israel will continue to attack the Arab countries,” he wrote.
State of rest of the world, brace yourselves. This is getting ugly.