Israel under hack attack
© 2002 BBC
Tuesday, 16th April 2002 - Israel has been suffering a barrage of
hack attacks since the start of the Palestinian uprising in September 2000.
According to security firm mi2g, the Israeli domain .il has been the biggest
victim of web defacements over the past three years, suffering 548 of the
1,295 attacks in the Middle East.
As violence escalates in the region, cyber attacks on Israel are also on
the rise. In the past 14 days, Israel has suffered about two-thirds of the
significant web defacements in the Middle East.
The most active anti-Israeli hacker group claims to be Egyptian and started
its activities just weeks after 11 September. Cyber warfare could be used
as a barometer for political tensions around the world, said mi2g Chief Executive,
DK Matai. "The tense situation in the Middle
East is reflected in both covert and overt hack attacks," he
Israel is vulnerable not just because of its action against the Palestinian
Authority, but also because it has the largest number of internet connections
in the Middle East. Israel has 2.4 million net connections, more than any
of the 22 Arab countries.
Attacks on infrastructure?
So far "hacktivism" has been limited to web defacements and denial of service
attacks. This is where a web server is bombarded with messages causing it
to fall over. It was possible for the political hackers to intensify their
campaign, said Peter Sommer, senior fellow at the Computer Security Research
Centre at the London School of Economics. "It is entirely feasible to mount
an attack on critical national infrastructure," he said. "From a pro-Arab
point of view, it would be far more effective than sending in a suicide bomber."
Hacktivism is a growing problem on the internet, as activists utilise the
web to get across their political messages. One of the most prolific hacktivists
is a group of Pakistani hackers calling itself GForce Pakistan. Soon after
the 11 September attacks on the US, the group defaced a server belonging to
the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. It also threatened to target
US and British military sites unless the US withdrew from Saudi Arabia and
ended its bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Similar attacks were seen during
the Serbian conflict, the US-China spy plane incident in April 2001 and the
China-Taiwan standoff in August 1999.