The hacker collective Anonymous said Thursday it is harassing and disabling Israeli websites to protest the bombing of Gaza.
The attacks are not limited to government websites, NBC reports. Dozens of ".il" and otherwise Israeli-associated sites have been taken down or defaced.
The coordinated action began at 3 a.m. Thursday EST, the New York Times reported. Hackers attacked Web sites belonging to the Israel Defense Forces, the prime minister’s office, Israeli banks, airlines and security companies by flooding them with Web traffic, in a campaign they called #OpIsrael.
Anonymous announced the campaign on the file-sharing site PasteBin, which allows anyone to place and access simple text documents.
The document reads, in part:
“Anonymous does not support violence by the IDF or by Palestinian Resistance/Hamas. Our concern is for the children of Israel and Palestinian Territories and the rights of the people in Gaza to maintain open lines of communication with the outside world.”
A number of Twitter handles claiming to represent various factions of Anonymous list sites that hackers have compromised or taken down. Several point to a list at this PasteBin document, which has at least 50 sites serving hacker messages from various groups.
The results varied. Tel Aviv's official government site fails to load, for instance, while the Israeli president's site is still up, though it's slow to respond.
Anonymous outlets are also reporting news from the area, including the locations of bombings, and sharing instructions on how to get online if the Internet is disrupted by violence or technical problems.
Though hackers boasted on Twitter that they had taken some 40 Israeli sites off-line, Radware, a computer security company, told the Times that in all but a few cases they were unsuccessful. But they did take down a blog page belonging to the IDF 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.”
Radware said the hackers employed very basic tools like a Low Orbit Ion Cannon, a simple open-source application that requires little technical know-how. Once the application is downloaded -- either voluntarily or via a malicious link -- the application recruits computers into a botnet, or a network of computers, that floods a designated Web site with traffic until it slows or collapses under the load.