Anonymous hackers declare assault on Israel

Hackers group threatens online attack on Holocaust Memorial Day; Internet security expert says attack not national security issue.

Anonymous 370 (photo credit: Screen capture)
Anonymous 370
(photo credit: Screen capture)
Internet hackers belonging to the Anonymous group have threatened to “erase Israel from the Internet” on April 7, claiming that their efforts will form the largest online assault on a single country in history.
The statements included a threat to strike every website in the Israeli cyber-sphere, and cited pro-Palestinian rhetoric as the motivation.
Despite the menacing messages, the coming days will not present a threat to national security, Nir Gaist, chief technology officer and founder of the Nyotron computer security firm, told The Jerusalem Post.
Gaist is assisting state security and economic agencies to protect themselves against the online threats.
“A threat exists, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
“But we have to keep things in proportion. These are independent hackers located around the world, an assortment of young people. The significance of the threat is somewhat limited. The damage will likely be confined to the realm of image,” Gaist said.
Those most at risk are home users, business owners and entities that are wholly dependent on their websites, Gaist said.
Home users may have trouble accessing websites, or may find that their privacy has been compromised, he added.
“The most dangerous weaknesses are [online] bank accounts,” Gaist stressed.
“I recommend that if you don’t have to surf on the day of the attack, take a day or two off. Take a break from Facebook,” he said.
Heightened awareness by home users will “dictate the success of the attack,” Gaist added. “Most of us are not sufficiently aware.”
Basic safety tips included not opening suspicious emails from unknown sources, deleting emails with illogical claims and being on the lookout for emails from friends that are uncharacteristic, such as a “friend who usually writes in Hebrew, and suddenly sends an email in English.”
Emails claiming to be from banks should raise an alarm, and users should confirm the email by independently calling their banks. They should never click on links contained in such emails or volunteer private information.
Similarly, to avoid Facebook viruses, users should be on the lookout for strange messages on the website, Gaist warned. The same caution should be used to strange cellphone text messages and phone calls. “Change passwords everywhere that it is possible. Many people use the same password for everything. This is a good time to change them,” he added.
When carrying out online shopping, people should ensure that the website has an SSL certificate, and should try to use virtual credit cards that can be topped up and limited to a sum. Business owners should back up their sites and consult with their web security providers, Gaist said.
Prof. Mark Last of the Department of Information Systems Engineering at Ben- Gurion University, agreed that Israelis should raise their online awareness. “It’s hard to know where their [the attackers’] experts come from,” he said. “In general, I believe they have people with the ability to launch attacks. I don’t know if these are the best attackers in the world, but I wouldn’t underestimate the threat.”
In an email sent to Knesset employees on Thursday, Deputy Information Security Officer Ofir Cohen explained that on Sunday, government websites are expected to face distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks and attempts at vandalism.
“The estimations are that [the cyber-attacks] will reach an unusual level that we have never seen before,” Cohen wrote, adding that the E-government system, the government information security body, and the Knesset’s internet service provider (ISP) are working to block the attack.
The Knesset is bolstering its usual cyber-security measures, which include a firewall meant to deter DDOS attacks.
The Information Security Department of the Knesset is updating its online security as well as sharing information with other government offices in preparation for the expected attack.Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.