Monday, November 19, 2012

"Hacktivists" assail Israelis


As if attacks from the actual enemy did not cause enough worry.

Hackers of the organization known as Anonymous are attempting to cripple Israeli websites in response to the escalating conflict in Gaza. Like many nations, Israel fights off hack attempts every day, but the sheer number of attacks has exploded recently.  What's more, cyber security officials now see this sort of thing as "par for the course" in terms of the landscape of the modern battlefield.  So what is the beef Anonymous has with Israel?  According to the linked ABC News article:

"Anonymous - the multifaceted movement of online rebels and self-described "hacktivists," spearheaded the campaign against Israel, distributing press releases and videos denouncing what it described as an "insane attack" against Gaza. The cyber onslaught began after Israel launched airstrikes against Gaza last week following persistent rocket fire."

And Anonymous is not alone.  A regiment of computer hackers calling themselves the Pakistani Cyber Army has likewise joined in the strikes.

Most of these cyber attacks are about what you'd expect, so-called "denial of service" attacks where websites are utterly swarmed with traffic.  What could be potentially more devastating is the deployment of "botnets" where thousands of infected computers are coordinated in a single attack by hackers.  The likelihood and actual occurrence of multiple levels of cyber attacks has once again sounded a new call.  This call is an urging by experts for nations such as the United States to greater secure its "virtual territory" against assaults of these very kinds. After all, what might do more damage: a rocket hit to a neighborhood or the shutdown of a financial institution? 

These sorts of hacks aren't especially new for the Middle East, either.  At one point, a Muslim organization was blocking access to porn websites and routing the surfer to a page with verses from the Koran.  That's relatively harmless in comparison to the sort of attacks we're talking about in this post.  As for Anonymous, I'm not entirely sure what to think of them.

One big plus for them in my book is how last summer they went after the Big Oil corporations.  Anonymous hacked the email identities of over 1,000 employees of Exxon and BP and then used those IDs to sign the Greenpeace petition to stop drilling in the Arctic.  Only way it could have been better is if they covered up the companies' homepages with pictures of cities underwater.

Sorry.  Guess I'm on another anti-oil kick. We had a guest lecturer on campus last week, an oil exec  expounding on the glorious future oil will bring us.  That and BP got off lucky this week.


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