Israel’s Cyber Defenses Protect Government Sites from 44 Million Attacks

As Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense shield blocks hundreds of incoming missiles from hitting their target, their cyber defense is also hard at work blocking millions of incoming cyber attacks. There have been millions of hacking attempts against government sites that have been intercepted with reportedly only one successfully taking down it’s target. And that for only a few minutes.

Israeli finance minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters that Israel is facing a second front in the battle with Hamas, a wave of cyber attacks. According to Steinitz, Israel’s cyber defense “deflected 44 million cyber attacks on government websites. All the attacks were thwarted except for one, which targeted a specific website that was down for six or seven minutes.”

Of the 44 million attacks:

  • The majority targeted military sites
  • 10 Million attacks targeted President Shimon Peres’s website
  • 7 Million against Israel’s Foreign Ministry
  • 3 million against Benjamin Netanyahu’s site

“The ministry’s computer division will continue to block the millions of cyber attacks” Minister Steinitz said adding, “We are enjoying the fruits of our investment in recent years in developing computerized defense systems.

But apparently, their defense does not defend against Denial of Service attacks as many Israeli sites still appear to be unavailable due to high traffic as this current screenshot of the President’s website shows:

And the Blog of the Israeli Defense Force seems to be offline. This is odd as it is protected by CloudFlare, a company that helps block Denial of Service Attacks :

Israel’s Iron dome is a missile defense shield that works very well. Hamas terrorists have fired approximately 1,000 missiles at Israeli cities. Of these, Iron Dome has successfully intercepted 90% of the projectiles that would have hit populated areas:

We’ve got about a 90% success rate,” he says, proudly giddy. “This is unprecedented in history.” It’s also impossible to confirm, but the lack of Israeli casualties suggests Iron Dome is the most-effective, most-tested missile shield the world has ever seen.

But Israel knows that they must do something about the cyber attacks. The hacker group Anonymous claims to have taken down about 700 Israeli websites, defaced over 100 and apparently wiped Jerusalem’s Bank database(which has since been restored).

Israel is in the process of creating a “Digital Iron Dome”, which according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will protect them against future cyber attacks:

Every day, many attempts are made to infiltrate Israel’s computer systems,” the prime minister warned. “Just as we have the Iron Dome against missiles and the security fence against infiltrators and terrorism, we will have a similar protection against cyber-attacks.

Defense will help against incoming attacks, but don’t forget that Israel also has offensive cyber capabilities. The country that helped develop “Stuxnet” is not toothless in the realm of cyber attack. One can safely assume that Israel is tracking the sources of these attacks and will deal with them as they see fit.

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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.