How Israeli cybersecurity professionals are helping | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

A new front in the war is opening up in the digital sphere in the shadow of the simmering Israel-Gaza conflict. Hacktivists, who have launched a wave of cyberattacks and sabotage operations, are the enemy in this cyberwar.

Hacktivists have already begun planning targets and marketing their products to the highest bidders, who may be trying to damage publicly accessible websites for political reasons.

The devastation caused to people is evident, as proven by the disruption of key services and infrastructure. Specific cyberattacks, like as DDoS strikes on government websites and critical services, demonstrate the severe nature of this digital conflict.

Israeli cybersecurity experts have risen to the challenge by offering free services to regional businesses under attack from the internet.

Israeli cybersecurity volunteers unite

As Israeli children listened to their teacher over Zoom, the image of a gun-toting man in fatigues appeared on the screen, according to a screenshot shared with Reuters. In another case, a video showed a billboard in the central Israeli city of Holon displaying images of rockets and a burning Israeli flag.

Israeli information security professionals are banding together to provide free cybersecurity services to Israeli companies amid a spike in hacktivist activity sparked by the war in Gaza, volunteers said.

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Reuters could not independently verify the school incident. The screenshot was provided by Yossi Appleboum, the chief executive of cybersecurity company Sepio. Appleboum said he received the screenshot via a person in direct contact with the children’s families.

In a statement, Zoom said that it was “deeply upset” to hear about the disruption, and that it had offered its help to enable schools in Israel to continue operating remotely.

The video of the hacked billboard was first posted to the Telegram messaging service on Thursday morning. Check Point (CHKP.O), an Israel-based cybersecurity firm, said the billboard was one of at least two such public displays to have been hacked with “pro-Hamas and anti-Israel content”. Reuters was able to verify the location of the video as Holon.

Injured Palestinians arrive to al-Shifa Hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, central Gaza Strip. AP

Israel’s tech industry is — like the country as a whole — in flux, with many professionals being called up for military duty. The changeover has left new openings for mischief.

A disparate group of hacktivists claiming to act in support of the Palestinian people have attempted intrusions and sabotage efforts. Websites have been knocked offline and hackers have occasionally made off with stolen data, but the damage has so far been modest.

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Ohad Zaidenberg, an Israeli IT specialist, is leading a group of volunteers to help Israeli companies that are being actively targeted.

“The Israeli cyber community is vast — and the mobilisation is both effective and moving,” he said.

The organisers of the volunteers are drawing the line on members taking vigilante action against Hamas, said Omri Segev Moyal, the chief executive of the Israeli cybersecurity firm Profero.

Moyal, who runs a popular Facebook group for Israeli cybersecurity professionals, said he had already removed a couple of posts calling for digital action against the Palestinian group. He said he could understand the impulse — “people are mad” — but he believed vigilante action would backfire.

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Moyal said Profero had been approached by the family of one of the people who went missing with a request to hack into the victim’s iCloud and phones in an effort to locate them.

“We refused,” he said. “We think it’s actually going to cause damage to the victims.”

Hamas-supporting hackers target Israeli infrastructure

A group of Hamas-supporting hackers known as AnonGhost has claimed to have disabled an Israeli emergency alert programme, according to their social media channel.

Another organisation, AnonymousSudan, claimed on Telegram that it was aggressively targeting Israel’s essential infrastructure, but gave little proof to back up its claims.

This image provided by Maxar Technologies, shows the Rafah Border crossing between Gaza, and Egypt. AP

According to security specialists, over 100 websites in Israel have been defaced or temporarily affected by simple distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which work by flooding a site with a surge of inauthentic traffic.

“The attackers have managed to knock us offline for extended periods over the past few days,” Jerusalem Post Editor-in-chief Avi Mayer told Reuters in an email. “This is a blatant assault on freedom of the press.”

The Israeli Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT, did not reply quickly to Reuters calls for comment, making it difficult to determine the accuracy of hacktivists’ claims.

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The same dynamic played out in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which saw a volunteer army of pro-Ukraine hackers claim credit for numerous attacks on Russian websites and other online services.

Analysts do however expect significant cyber-espionage activity to happen behind the scenes.

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Microsoft released a study last week detailing how the Gaza-based hacker group Storm-1133 increased its cyber spying efforts on Israeli corporations involved in telecommunications, defence, and energy early this year.

“We assess that this group works to further the interests of Hamas,” the study said.

Omri Segev Moyal, CEO of Israel’s Profero, said his company has lately detected hacking activities linked to an Iranian spy cell known as Muddy Water, as well as incursion efforts potentially linked to Molerats, another group that researchers believe acts for Hamas.

Molerats’ activity “stopped after the bombing started,” he explained.

With inputs from Reuters 


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