In response to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza last week, the activist hacker collective Anonymous re-launched its #OpIsrael campaign on Sunday. The group threatened to infiltrate 60,000 websites, 40,000 Facebook pages, 5,000 Twitter accounts and 30,000 Israeli bank accounts, claiming the coordinated cyber attack would cause more than $3 billion in damages.
The group reportedly made 60 million hacking attempts on Sunday, but the attack failed to meet its mark. Several banks and the Jerusalem Post reported attacks, but were able to repel the hackers. Israel’s Bureau of Statistics and an education ministry website both went down, but denied that the outage was a result of hackers.
“So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage,” said Yitzhak Ben Yisrael of Israel’s National Cyber Bureau. “Anonymous doesn’t have the skills to damage the country’s vital infrastructure. And if that was its intention, then it wouldn’t have announced the attack ahead of time. It wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart.”
A spokesperson for Anonymous told Salon that Israeli officials are simply downplaying the effect of the hacks. “Damage is in the eye of the beholder,” the person said, noting that thousands of credit cards, passwords, logins, and websites have been compromised.
While Anonymous was unable to accomplish its goal of wiping Israel off the Internet, it seems that it was able to deface nearly 20,000 Israeli Facebook accounts and nearly 2,000 websites. Regional outlets report several NGO websites were damaged, including one for Larger than Life, a non-profit for children with cancer. Students at Haifa University had their personal data leaked, and 1,700 users had their information leaked on Hackers News Bulletin.
The group also claims to have successfully hacked the Government Publications Office, the Haifa Sewage Treatment Plant, the National Insurance Institute and Decell Inc., a defense company which contracts with the Ministry of Defense. Several small businesses also had their homepages replaced by anti-Israel slogans.
Israeli hackers retaliated by defacing Islamist websites with pro-Israel messages, and took control of OpIsrael.com, which hosted information about the Anonymous cyber-attack.
Hackers have attacked Israel before. In January, a group based in Saudi Arabia shut down websites belonging to Israel’s stock exchange and national airline. There was an effort in November during the violence in Gaza, and there was an earlier attack by Anonymous in late March.
This is Anonymous’ second major in attack in a week. The hacktivists shut down several North Korean websites and social media accounts on April 3.