Politically motivated hackers have already begun to mobilize in response to the weekend Hamas attack on Israel.

Disruptive cyberattacks have knocked news sites and emergency services apps offline in the days following the attack, fueling panic and confusion as people try to keep up with what’s going on in the region.

Driving the news: Over the weekend, hackers targeted the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s largest English-language daily, as well as a real-time rocket detection app used by many Israelis.

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The Jerusalem Post’s website was down Monday owing to a “series of cyberattacks,” for which Anonymous Sudan claimed credit in its Telegram group. (The Jerusalem Post’s website was restored on Tuesday.)

According to Group-IB researchers, the pro-Palestinian group AnonGhost also exploited a weakness in the RedAlert app, which informs users to real-time rocket launches, and issued false signals about a nuclear weapon.

Another pro-Palestine hacking group, Ghosts of Palestine, said in its Telegram channel on Monday that it had attacked a number of organizations, including Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ben Gurion Airport, and others. (However, as of Monday afternoon, those websites looked to be operational.)

The larger picture: Politically motivated hackers (known as hacktivists) are quick to exploit heightened international tensions, such as terrorist acts and wars.

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Russian hackers have undertaken distributed denial-of-service assaults against Ukrainian enterprises as well as companies in neighboring countries throughout the Ukraine conflict.
Reading between the lines: Politically motivated hackers frequently undertake simple DDoS assaults that knock websites offline for hours, if not days.

While not as severe as ransomware or classic espionage, DDoS frequently adds to the psychological impact of an armed conflict for ordinary populations by making it difficult to use fundamental web services.

Threat level: More hacker organizations may become involved in the Israel-Hamas confrontation this week.

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According to CyberKnow, a security research outfit that studies cyber warfare activities, at least 58 groups were actively attacking Israeli and Palestinian organizations with DDoS attacks as of Monday.

On Sunday, the Ghosts of Palestine made an appeal in their Telegram channel for hackers all across the world to help them in assaulting Israeli and US public and commercial infrastructure.

The intrigue: So far, it appears that the majority of cyber activity has been directed at Israel in support of Palestinians. However, analysts believe that more pro-Israel organizations will arise.

CyberKnow estimates that 10 of the 58 estimated groups involved in the war are working in favour of Israel, while the remaining 48 are either in support of Palestinians or against Israel.

Killnet and other pro-Russian hacking outfits are among those fighting against Israel.

State-sponsored hacking groups, particularly those based in Iran, have been targeting Israel for years, both in espionage efforts and in disruptive assaults, and they are unlikely to abstain from this battle.

Israel and Iran have long engaged in offensive cyberattacks against one another, resulting in gas station outages, halted steel production, and water utility outages.

According to a Microsoft assessment issued last week, Iran targeted Israel’s government and private entities more than any other country from July 2022 to June 2023.

The National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity, Rob Joyce, said Monday at the Cipher Brief Threat Conference that the United States hasn’t observed any large cyber campaigns related to the conflict yet, but they may be started.


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