Numerous Israeli Websites Down – Anonymous Claims Responsibility

This morning I was on a forum that was discussing IDF Special Forces and one person mentioned that they just ordered a IDF Special Forces t-shirt that they thought was very cool and to check it out. The only problem was the link did not seem to be working. The site seemed to be down. I went to another website that sold IDF t-shirts, again, they appeared to be having website problems. Lastly I went to a real IDF backed site and the website was very sluggish.

Finally, it dawned on me that this could be the work of pro-Gaza Islamic supporters.

Sure enough it looks like Anonymous has stepped into the online social media battle that is being waged between the IDF and Gaza militants. As rockets fall on Israel and Israel retaliated, a war of words was being fought on Twitter and Facebook. As was mentioned yesterday, I figured it would only be a matter of time before political hacktivists would get involved and target websites.

Well, it didn’t take long at all as the hacker group “Anonymous” kicked off “#OPIsrael”.

Anonymous claimed in a tweet to have taken down 40+ Israeli government and military websites in three hours. Not so, claimed the security company Radware in a NY Times Report:

“Radware, a computer security company, said that in all but a few cases they were unsuccessful. But they did take down a blog page belonging to the I.D.F. and replaced the home page of what they said was a private Israeli surveillance and security company with an image of Gaza in flames and the following message: “Stop bombing Gaza! Millions of Israelis & Palestinians are lying awake, exposed and terrified.”

According to the article Anonymous recruited hackers through Twitter, IRC Chat and a Pastebin post to run Denial of Service programs, like the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to attack Israeli backed sites. Apparently the attack is still ongoing as several Israeli government and military themed sites that I tried to visit today were down or seriously sluggish.

Many times Denial of Service attacks are not hi-tech, they simply flood websites with tons of simultaneous requests from thousands of computers and bog the servers down. Called Distributed Denial of Service Attacks, they can be very effective if target websites do not have ways to deflect or absorb the large volume of requests.

I am sure the Israeli Cyber teams will respond with attacks on Anonymous sites and group members. But unfortunately it looks like the the possibility of a ground military operation could be forthcoming as Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has called for up to 30,000 reservists to be activated. With most of those being from the Engineering Corp, that would prepare paths for armored vehicles to enter into Gaza.

We will have to watch this closely as a military operation into Gaza could cause increased conflict in the area, with one Israeli media outlet even hinting that the escalation could lead to war with Iran.

Japan Building Automatic Cyber Defense Virus

Japan steps it up a notch in the cyber war arena. Apparently the Japanese government has hired IT product giant Fujitsu to create a cyberweapon virus that will automatically seek out and destroy enemy viruses:

“The three-year project was launched in fiscal 2008 to research and test network security analysis equipment production. The Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute, which is in charge of weapons development, outsourced the project’s development to a private company. Fujitsu Ltd. won the contract to develop the virus, as well as a system to monitor and analyze cyber-attacks for 178.5 million yen.”

That’s a cool 2.3 million to create an offensive cyber defense system that will not only detect an attack, but will backtrack and seek out the attacker, even when attackers bounce through several proxy systems.  According to the article the “virus” will disable the incoming attack and record forensics data.

The defensive program almost acts like a human immune system tracking down and weeding out invading viruses. Systems like these are needed when facing the latest advanced threats.

Actually computer scientists and engineers are currently studying the human immune system to try to replicate it for computer defense.

Though automated cyber defense systems are classified, from what public data is available the US has had this capability for at least a couple of years now. US computer security company Rsignia comes to mind immediately. Rsignia creates cutting edge security devices used by the US government and in the US-CERT Einstein program.

We covered Rsignia’s Cyberscope automated offensive cyber weapon system back in 2010.

Cyberscope has the ability to detect and automatically counterattack incoming threats. It has several options that it can use in response. For example it can simply shut the attacking stream down or intercept the data that it being ex-filtrated, manipulate it, and feed it back to the attack. Or better yet, it can even infect the proxy machines used and turn them into bots to counter attack the infiltrator.

These were the capabilities openly discussed in mid-2010, who knows how far the US has advanced since.