A hacker network purported to be based in Saudi Arabia is reportedly to blame for the disruption of Israel's Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and national airline El Al Web sites on Monday, officials at both companies confirmed.
Both the stock trading and the airline operated as usual, and neither Web site contains sensitive information. Still, in security-obsessed Israel, the hacking of the Web sites - the second such attack in two weeks - reveals how vulnerable Israel is to cyber warfare, The Associated Press reported.
Earlier this month, a hackers group identifying themselves as group-xp, a known Saudi hacking group, published thousands of personal and credit card details reportedly gleaned from Israeli commercial Web sites. The group claimed, no an Israeli sports Web site, to have gained access to 400,000 Israeli credit card accounts. The group called it a gift to the world for the New Year designed to hurt the Zionist pocket.
The Bank of Israel released a Tuesday statement saying that based on the information from the credit card companies, only 15,000 credit card numbers were exposed; those credit cards were blocked for phone purchases and Internet use.
El Al spokesman, Ran Rahav, released a statement saying, El Al is aware that for the past two weeks a cyber-war is raging against Israel. The company is closely monitoring the Saudi hacker activity. El Al is taking precautions regarding its Web site and, as a result, there may be disruptions in the activity of the Web site.
Speaking at a public event, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called the Saudi hackers attack a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation and (it) must be treated as such. Days later, Ayalon's Web site was targeted in a cyber-attack, CNN reported.
Taking to his Facebook page, Ayalon wrote that Muslim extremists hacked into his Web site to try and prevent me from continuing to do my work on behalf of the State of Israel, especially my online public diplomacy.
In response to frequent attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the National Cyber Directorate, which aims to tackle cyber-attacks.
As long as the systems are guarded, any hacker anywhere in the world can break into them and do damage, Isaac Ben-Israel, a founding member of the unit, said on Israel Radio. I believe that, done right, in a year or two, we will be able to wipe out all these hackers' threats.