The cyber-attack that wasn’t

#OpIsrael Fail

The computer-hacking group (“hacktivists”) who call themselves “Anonymous” announced last week that they were planning a huge cyber-attack, nicknamed #OpIsrael, on Israel this Sunday, 7th April, which also happened to be (coincidentally or not) Yom Hashoah.  The attack’s aim was to “wipe Israel off the internet” in an echo of Iran’s murderous threats to “wipe Israel off the map”.

Israel, being a world center for computer security developers hunkered down, battened the virtual hatches, and went on the alert for any kind of attack or virus on its vital installations and infrastructure.

As we now know, the whole episode was one gigantic Fail for the Anonymous hacktivists.  Not only did they not wipe Israel off the internet, they didn’t bring any major Israeli site down, at least not longer than for a very short while.

The massive cyberattack Israel was bracing for on Sunday was largely muted and left it unscathed, despite hacktivist group Anonymous’ threats to “erase Israel from the Internet.”

Anonymous announced that as part of its #OpIsrael campaign, launched in March in solidarity with the Palestinians, it would set in motion a “cyber-tsunami” against Israeli websites, including those operated by government ministries, the Israel Defense Forces, the energy sector, banks, credit companies and various universities. Information security experts, however, described Sunday’s attack as “a mere ripple.”

Cyberattacks against Israeli websites began on April 5 and were supposed to peak on Sunday, and while dozens of attempts to hack major websites were noted between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., the majority of them failed. Sources in Tehila, the Israeli e-government project, told Israel Hayom that the cyberattack was unable to completely down any of the government websites, although some, like the Education Ministry’s website, experienced some short-term accessing issues.

[…]

The hackers also made several mistakes, such as confusing websites in Liechtenstein, whose top-level domain ends with “li,” with Israeli websites, whose web addresses end with “il.”

You couldn’t make it up! 😀

Legal Insurrection has a good round-up of the attacks and counter attacks.

Beyond failing at their self-declared mission, they themselves were hacked by Israeli hacktivists who hacked into Anonymous’ website, plastered Israeli hasbara all over it, and got the site to play the Hatikva! 🙂

Andre Oboler in the Jerusalem Post explains:

Last week ago I wrote about #OpIsrael the “planned new cyber attack against Israel”. My article ended by noting that “there will be plenty of Israeli geeks looking forward to the challenge – and quite capable of coming out on top”. I also tweeted my article to one of the Iranian backed anti-Israel hacker groups I mentioned and to one of the Anonymous news services. #OpIsrael was tagged as well. So to the anti-Israel hackers, don’t say I didn’t warn you that #OpIsrael was a really bad idea.

 

Sure enough, as #OpIsrael got underway, the official #OpIsrael site, www.opisrael.com, was hacked. The site’s launch had been announced on the CyberWarZone website back on March 16th, and it was actively used to coordinate supporters and promote #OpIsrael. Now the site is now playing Hatikvah. The page was hacked by EhIsR and also contains a 20 point list of arguments in support of Israel (see below). Unlike the simply defacements that have typically targeted Israeli sites, this hack claims to have also destroyed all the data on the targeted server. This makes it a more serious attack, but in EhIsR’s defence, this was effectively an attack on an enemy infrastructure in a war like situation where as the attacks on NGOs and civilian infrastructure are more akin to targeting civilians.

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While the Israeli hackers clearly have the technical skills that match or surpass those targeting Israel, the public diplomacy skills are still somewhat lacking. A 20 point list of reasoned arguments shared in a defacement of a site that will be visited by those seeking to attack Israel, is not likely to convince anyone

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The Zionist hackers like EhIsR are responding not with hate but with reason. It’s a shame that for most of the world such an approach is unlikely to be affective. A better approach may have been to set off code red sirens and pictures of school children rushing for cover. More effective still, ethically more questionable, would have been a focus on the impact of terrorism. Israel avoids the publication of highly graphic images showing the aftermath of violence. An effort is made to get on with life. Perhaps not sharing this side of the conflict is a mistake. It promotes Israel’s toughness and resilience, but in the international community that simply makes Israel a legitimate target for further abuse.

The message that these Zionist hackers are ultimate projecting is the same message Israel has always gives in conventional warfare. The message says, “we’re tougher than you think, and attacking us is a really bad idea”.

Read the rest of the article to see the 20 talking points about Israel that the Israeli counter-attackers pasted onto the Anonymous website.

Other Israeli hackers managed to crash the Anonymous website entirely.

For the techies amongst you, the Daily Beast website explains how #OpIsrael became an #OpFail:

IsraeliElite attacked a string of sites, according to its own releases sent out on Pastebin, a posting site favored in the past by Anonymous and its spin-off groups like Lulzsec. In a process known as “doxing,” the group revealed the online identity of an anti-Israel hacker. The group also claims to have infiltrated a series of Palestinian Authority websites as well as an Iranian bank, a Pakistani bank, and websites affiliated with the government of Turkey.

The group says it then brought down websites affiliated with Hezbollah and the Syrian government through a distributed denial of service attack, or DDOS. These attacks flood a server with junk requests until it can’t perform basic functions for normal users, and eventually shuts down.

Beyond the laughs that we have gained at the expense of Anonymous, and the sighs of relief that the damage has been minimal, the motivation of Anonymous is extremely questionable.

The guest-writer Akus at CiFWatch posits that the cyber-attack follows a long and ignoble tradition of attacking Jews on their holy days:

One of the grimly curious features of traditional antisemitism, in its most violent forms, has been the way antisemites frequently launched violence (including pogroms and ethnic cleansing) against Jews on Jewish holy days.

[…]

Not to be outdone, modern cyber-haters, armed with the best technology they can acquire or create, also searched for a particularly meaningful day to attack the Jews. The group calling itself “Anonymous” decided that the most appropriate day to launch a cyber-pogrom against the Jews would be Holocaust Remembrance Day. Their goal was to “wipe Israel off the map of the Internet”.

Given the language they used in their announcements, there can be little doubt that they saw a connection between the attempt to murder every Jew physically in the Holocaust with an attempt to remove the ability of Israelis to use the Internet – even if, ironically, they were using technology that has been, in large part the fruit of Israeli development.

Israel’s haters will always look for an opportunity to attack Israel. If it’s not the dispute with the Palestinians, then they’ll use a Jewish holy day. It’s all irrelevant to them, as long as they can try and bring Israel down.

As always we must be eternally vigilant.

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3 Responses to The cyber-attack that wasn’t

  1. Debby says:

    My 16 year old loved this story!! What a funny image…

    • anneinpt says:

      LOL! Yes, it’s the kind of story that would appeal to techy teens. My own son (in his 20s) is finishing up his computer science degree and has been alternately fascinated and amused by this fiasco.

      Let’s just hope that future attempts – and there will be such, I’m sure – will end up in equal failure.

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    the opIsrael site playing Hatikvah is absolutely wonderful!

    While the argument that we (Am Yisroel) need more than just gentle 20 points to lob against the antis, the fact that the lesson has been learned: “we are strong, we will resist. The worst that can happen to us is that we will take you with us (so the price for you isn’t worth paying). The best for us is that we defeat you and you fail miserably. After all, even your main cyber site is playing the Israeli national anthem.”

    How do you like them apples (as our American allies would say)?

    If this seems uncharacteristic for a self-confessed (even sane) lefty, then, as I told some friends over Pesach, you would be surprised at how right-wing I am when it comes to Israel.

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