Sunday, January 08, 2012

Arab hackers targeting Israeli civilians 

Israel has vowed to crack down on cyber terrorists after hackers stole the credit card details of tens of thousands of Israeli consumers and posted them online.

Hackers claiming to be from a known Arab cyber group infiltrated various consumer websites to get the details.

A Saudi Arabian computer hacker, who goes by the name of Ox Omar and is reportedly just 19 years old, has apparently carried out the latest cyber attack on Israel.

Last week he posted thousands of Israeli credit card numbers on the internet as well as the personal details of cardholders and is claiming he has collected nearly a million numbers and plans to publish the lot.

"It's a little scary this whole phenomenon... How simple it is for your credit card details to be all over the internet," one Israeli victim, Tal Shai, said.

"Of course you're afraid, because you don't know how long will pass from when they use the card until it's blocked."

Israel's data protection authority has described the attack as a cyber crime, and the head of Israel's Visa card company, Israel David, says it is a "technological terror attack on the citizens of Israel".

"Their main interest was to embarrass us as a country... and we are embarrassed," he said.

The data theft appears to have targeted commercial websites, and although not new, is one of the worst such attacks Israel has faced.

Israelis were not the only targets - several hundred people worldwide who had bought Jewish art or objects online were also affected.

And while the financial damage so far is minimal, the security breach involved has heightened concerns in Israel about the potential use of stolen information by enemies of the Jewish state.
Worrying trend

Yael Shahar, an Israeli expert in cyber-intelligence and crime, says he does not consider the attack terrorism but it is a worrying trend.

"I guess it depends on how you would define cyber-terrorism. I mean obviously it is not terrorism in the conventional sense that society was not disrupted, people's routines were not disrupted. Nobody was terrorised," he said.

"It was very likely an opportunistic attack and almost more of a hacktivist attack than cyber-terrorism.

"It is definitely politically motivated. Jewish and Israeli sites have been singled out for political reasons."

Israel has now vowed to respond to cyber attacks like this exactly as if they were violent terror attacks.

"Such cyber attacks are a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation," deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said.

"Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action."


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