Israel flag © yui Shutterstock 2012

Anonymous Attacks On Israel ‘Have Achieved Next To Nothing’

OpIsrael did not have “a single noteworthy technical achievement”, despite Anonymous claims of $3 billion damage, source in Tel-Aviv says

On by Thomas Brewster 1

Anonymous claims it caused $3 billion (£1.96bn) worth of damage in assaults on Israeli governments and businesses, as part of its OpIsrael campaign, are bogus, according to sources in the country.

The hacktivist collective launched the campaign hoping to “erase Israel from cyber space”, for “failing to respect” a ceasefire signed with Palestine in November last year. A message from the OpIsrael Twitter account suggested 60,000 websites, 40,000 Facebook accounts, 5000 Twitter accounts and 30,000 Israeli bank accounts were affected by the attacks.

‘Bogus, ridiculous’ Anonymous claims

Anonymous © Rob Kints Shutterstock 2012Yet security experts in and outside Israel have questioned whether Anonymous was in any way “victorious”. Whilst various government sites, including the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Bureau of Statistics, were taken offline for brief periods of time, and some were defaced, the numerous data dumps Anonymous bragged about appear largely to be “bogus”, according to security experts.

It appears much data was taken from old hacks and redacted to give the appearance that an Israeli site was hit, they said. In one case, a hacker replaced all “com” top level domains in emails with “.co.il” to make them appear to be of Israeli origin. That attempt to dupe users backfired, however, as using the Replace All function led to the column header changing from “company_id” to “co.ilpany_id”.

“At this time, the claim that the attack did little or no damage appears to be accurate. OpIsrael didn’t seem to have a single noteworthy technical achievement,” Idan Aharoni,  head of cyber intelligence at RSA’s Anti-Fraud Command Center in Tel Aviv, told TechWeekEurope.

“Propaganda seems to have been the attackers’ main agenda – even when they failed to obtain results they posted falsified information so they could claim success.”

Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau, had earlier said there “was hardly any real damage”, according to the Associated Press. He claimed Anonymous did not “have the skills to damage the country’s vital infrastructure”.

Sean Sullivan, security adviser at F-Secure, said the data dump he looked at appeared to be fake too, labelling the $3bn figure “ridiculous”. Sullivan also noted that it would be incredibly difficult to take Israel offline.

“Government websites can be set to serve internal IP ranges. So the national gateways take the load of any attempted DDoS attack. Meanwhile, within Israel, the sites and services are up,” he added.

TechWeekEurope contacted Anonymous via a popular Twitter account for comment, but had received no response at the time of publication.

However, more alleged leaks are emerging and a message from OpIsrael two hours ago read: “To the Goverment [sic] of Israel: You think #OpIsrael is over . . . this was just the beginning.”

Anonymous went after the Israeli government last year, when vice prime minister Silvan Shalom has had his Twitter account hacked.

In November, at a time of heightened aggression between Israel and Palestine, Israel claimed it had been the target of over 44 million Internet-based attacks. Anonymous said it contributed to that assault by defacing over 650 sites.

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Thomas Brewster
Author: Thomas Brewster
Security Correspondent, TechWeekEurope
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