January 16, 2012
Pro-Palestinian Hackers Disrupt Israeli Stock Exchange
On Monday Israeli officials reported that online hackers had targeted a number of the nation´s critical industries, launching a small-scale but coordinated cyber attack against the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), Israel´s El Al Airlines and three national banks.
Just days before, a hacker allying himself with the plight of the Palestinians accessed and leaked the personal information of thousands of Israeli credit card holders. It has not yet been determined whether the two successive digital offensives are directly connected.
A number of Israeli media outlets reported over the weekend that pro-Palestinian hackers had issued threats to shut down the TASE and airline websites. While a number of foreign news agencies have reported paralyzing disruptions in online services, the hacked companies have maintained that the attacks proved to be little more than a minor nuisance, leaving some customers unable to access their websites for a few hours. Both stock trading on the TASE and El Al flights proceeded with business as usual, minimizing the effects of the hackings as minor technical difficulties.
The First International Bank of Israel (FIBI) along with two of its subsidiaries, Massad and Otzar Hahayal, reported that the hackers had cracked the security for the marketing sites but added that services to online clients had as yet been unaffected.
Likewise, deputy manager of TASE´s marketing and communications unit Orna Goren stated that despite only allowing only intermittent access to the website, the hacking attack had had little if any impact on trading.
“The stock exchange´s trading activities are operating normally.”
Having been early on alerted to the possibility of the attack, El Al Airlines had taken precautionary measures and warned customers in advance that its website might experience disruptions.
Government officials have likewise maintained that the hackers posed no serious security threat.
On his Facebook page, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated that: “They [the hackers] have demanded an apology for Israel´s defensive measures. I am using this platform to send a clear message that [...] they will not silence us on the Internet, or in any forum.”
As yet no individuals or groups have claimed credit for Monday´s attacks. That didn´t stop the Gaza-based Palestinian political party Hamas from praising the attacks as a significant blow against their perceived oppressors and occupiers.
“This is a new field of resistance against the Occupation and we urge Arab youth to develop their methods in electronic warfare in the face of [Israeli] crimes,” stated Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
In a conference in Tel Aviv Monday afternoon, Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein told journalists that the hacking offensive was part of a broader plot to tarnish Israel´s reputation and destabilize the country.
“It´s another episode in the war our enemies are conducting as a campaign of delegitimization to hit our pockets and lifestyle,” he said.
And in what some have perceived as an overture towards the adoption of even more aggressive measure in prosecuting perceived regional threats, Edelstein also stated that: “Israel must use all measures at its disposal to prevent these virtual dangers from turning into real threats and to prevent with all its force attacks against it and its institutions. Today it´s credit card theft and toppling Web sites, and tomorrow it could be theft of security information and harm to infrastructure.”
Prior to Monday´s incident, an unidentified Saudi hacker informed Israel´s Ynet the attacks would be executed by a band of pro-Palestinian hackers calling itself “Nightmare.”