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Hacker group Anonymous vows to "Erase Israel From the Internet"


By John Space - April 03, 2013
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Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [cyber attacks] [#OpIsrael] [Anonymous hacker collective]

The hacker collective Anonymous is preparing a second wave of assaults against Israeli websites after a period of relative calm in Israeli cyberspace following the end of Israel's November assault on Gaza known as "Operation Pillar of Defense." The promised attacks, promoted through Twitter, are part of an Anonymous initiative known as "#Opisrael" which began during Pillar of Defense. Statements by Anonymous claim that starting April 7th, the group will initiate a massive campaign against Israeli websites.

Declaration of Cyber-war

In a video press release, members of Anonymous stated the #Opisrael attacks have been carried out in response to human rights violations committed by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people and the citizens of other countries in the region.

"It has come to our attention that the Israeli government has ignored repeated warnings about the abuse of human rights, shutting down the internet in Israel and mistreating its own citizens and those of its neighboring countries," the statement said. "Our hearts are with the women, children and families that are suffering at this very moment, as a direct result of the Israeli Governments misuse of its military."

The press release is nothing short of an open declaration of cyberwar against Israel.

"We will strike any and all websites that we deem to be in Israeli Cyberspace in retaliation for the mistreating of people in Gaza and other areas," the press release said. "Anonymous has been watching you, and you have received fair warning of our intent to seize control of your cyberspace in accordance with basic humanitarian rights of free speech and the right to live."

The statement was attributed to "Anonymous Op Israel, Danger Hackers, Anonymous Special Operations and the Anonymous Collective of the entire planet." Anonymous is not a single coherent organization, but rather a loosely-connected network of various groups and individuals, some of whom occasionally work at cross purposes.

We will strike any and all websites that we deem to be in Israeli Cyberspace in retaliation for the mistreating of people in Gaza and other areas

According to website The Hackers Post, the planned April 7th attacks were first announced by a team of hackers calling themselves "AnonGhost," who have previously been involved in hundreds of cyber attacks against Chilean, Cyprian, and American websites, among others. AnonGhost told The Hackers Post that "hacking teams have decided to unite against Israel as one entity and that Israel should be getting prepared to be 'erased' from the internet."

AnonGhost member Mauritania Attacker told the website that AnonGhost is not affiliated with Anonymous. However, many members of Anonymous have announced their support for the April 7th attacks. 

#Opisrael and Pillar of Cloud

Anonymous launched #Opisrael during Pillar of Defense to protest what it referred to as the "barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people." The campaign featured scores of major successes, including the deletion of the entire online databases of the Bank of Jerusalem and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the leak of over 2000 email addresses and passwords of Israeli government employees.

In addition, the group took down over 600 Israeli websites in coordinated DDoS (Directed Denial of Service) attacks. In a DDoS attack, special software is used to send high numbers of requests to a website, overwhelming its servers and forcing it to temporarily shut down. 

In a statement released the first day of Pillar of Cloud, Anonymous explained its motivations for attacking Israeli websites.

"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 Defense Force. Like so many around the globe, we have felt helpless in the face of such implacable evil. And today's insane attack and threatened invasion of Gaza was more of the same," Anonymous' statement read. "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. As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack learned the hard way – we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch."

The reference to Hosni Mubarak is a reminder of similar attacks carried out by Anonymous against Egyptian government websites during the Arab Spring uprisings.

In addition to the attacks, Anonymous also created a "Gaza Care Package," still available online, with basic first-aid tips and instructions for re-establishing severed internet access. Anonymous created similar "care packages" during the Arab Spring and other global uprisings.

Recent Attacks

Although Anonymous' #Opisrael attacks have slowed down since the end of Pillar of Cloud, the group never stopped the campaign entirely and has recently hacked several Israeli websites in preparation for the April 7th assault. 

In January, the group leaked between 14,000 and 15,000 credit-card numbers belonging to Bank of Israel customers. On March 27, AnonGhost took down 11 separate Israeli websites. The attacks do not only target Israeli government websites, but are targeted at any site with a .co.il domain name. And in February, hackers leaked details including usernames and passwords for 600,000 users of Israeli email client Walla!.

Dozens of separate target lists are available online, such as one containing 1,300 Israeli websites apparently targeted for attack by a group called Team Danger Hackers. 

The collective has not only targeted Israel, but recently hacked the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, leaking documents that the hackers claim prove that Palestinian governmental organizations including the PA and PLO have "Conspired with leet (the elite) of US and Israel" to oppress the Palestinian people. 

It remains to be seen if the attacks will have any effect on the Israeli system of occupation and apartheid. But many in the Israeli defense establishment have expressed worry over the planned attacks. If Anonymous is able to deliver on a scale proportionate to their boasts, cyber security officials may indeed have something to worry about. 




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