Oct 10 (Reuters) – Hacking groups say they are striking Israeli online targets amid the war in Israel and Gaza, disrupting and defacing sites such as the Jerusalem Post.
The conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors routinely attracts intense global attention and politically-minded hackers – called “hackers” – who exploit the fighting, either to support their favored side or simply to attract attention.
Recorded Future, a cyber intelligence company, said: “There are dozens of victims every day, whose lives are claimed by both existing and new (hacker) groups.”
Examples of serious or long-term damage remain few, but the activity shows how a subset of supporters are using digital tools to bring the war online.
So far, among other incidents, a group of Hamas-supporting hackers, known as AnonGhost, has claimed to have disabled Israel’s emergency alert app, according to their social media channel.
Another group, AnonymousSudan, said on Telegram that it was actively targeting Israel’s critical infrastructure, though it provided little evidence for its claims.
More than 100 websites in Israel have been defaced or temporarily disabled through simple distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which work by flooding a site with fake traffic, according to security analysts.
“The attackers were able to take us offline for extended periods over the past few days,” Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Avi Mayer said in an email. “This is a blatant attack on freedom of the press.”
The Israeli Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
It is often difficult to determine the accuracy of hacker claims. The same dynamic played out in the wake of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, which saw a volunteer army of pro-Ukrainian hackers claim responsibility for numerous attacks on Russian websites and other online services.
However, analysts expect significant cyber espionage activity to occur behind the scenes.
Last week, Microsoft released a report chronicling how a Gaza-based hacking group known as Storm-1133 intensified cyber espionage efforts on Israeli companies operating in telecommunications, defense and energy earlier this year.
“We assess that this group works to advance Hamas’ interests,” the report stated.
Omri Segev Moyal, CEO of Israeli cybersecurity firm Provero, said his company recently discovered some hacking activity linked to an Iranian spy group called Muddy Water and break-in attempts potentially linked to Molerats, another group that researchers believe is working for Hamas.
He added that Mullerat’s activity “stopped after the bombing began.”
(Reporting by Christopher Bing and Raphael Sater in Washington – Reporting by Muhammad for the Arab Bulletin) Additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Sanders and Sonali Paul
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