Since April 2013, hackers associated with the hacker group Anonymous have annually targeted Israeli government departments, Jewish groups and even Israeli citizens as a response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - an effort they have coined “OpIsrael.”
Every year since, anti-Israel hackers attempt to harm Israeli entities through cybercrimes - such as hacking websites, phishing scams, computer viruses and other common cyberattacks.
On the inaugural OpIsrael on April 9th, 2013, anti-Israel activist hackers temporarily took down the website of the Prime Minister’s Office and other government department websites. They also attacked the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum website.
Palestinian hacking group Anonymous Islamic JEArmy leaked the personal information of hundreds of Israeli citizens – including ID numbers, credit card details and cellphone numbers – on the seventh OpIsrael hacking effort in 2020.
After a decade of dealing with OpIsrael attacks, the Israeli government and other Israeli groups have strengthened their online systems and are increasingly prepared for cyberattacks. But how can the average Israeli citizen protect themselves from these attacks?
Update your software
Experts from cybersecurity company ESET suggest that Israeli netizens keep their software updated for all applications and operating systems in order to have the most updated and secure version available, as updates will often address glitches, bugs and other issues that could compromise your cybersecurity.
Don’t open suspicious emails
Hackers will often try to gain access to systems via emails with malicious attachments or attempts to gain your personal information. Israelis should be wary of suspicious emails and ensure the sender is not impersonating a person or service they currently use, as hackers may disguise their emails to something the user would recognize, such as an internet service or close friend. Attachments or links in the email that may seem innocuous can actually infiltrate the user’s computer, so netizens should remain vigilant against suspicious emails and corresponding attachments.
Don’t give out your personal information
Phishing scams are among the most common cyberattacks in today’s world, as hackers can impersonate groups that you may feel comfortable giving your personal information to. Israeli netizens should be wary of entities asking for credit card or bank information, personal government documents or other critical documents, such as giveaways claiming that the user won some sort of prize and must input their information to get it.
Avoid social media phishing scams
Experts advise against clicking on suspicious links found on social media - even if the link was sent to you by a friend. Phishing links can compromise your internet security even if you do not input your personal information, so the best way to avoid opening malicious links would be to confirm with the person directly that they indeed sent you the link before opening said link.
Use strong passwords, two-step verification
Cybersecurity experts suggest using dedicated passwords for each internet service, as well as enabling two-step verification whenever necessary. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden explained in 2015 that hackers can guess passwords based on personal information and common phrases before suggesting that users create case-sensitive phrases that a computer could not easily guess. His suggested password? “margaretthatcheris110%sexy.”