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E-battles rage in the Middle East

Electronic warfare is being waged alongside the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, as the battling factions stage...

Electronic warfare is being waged alongside the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, as the battling factions stage e-mail attacks on each other's Internet service providers

Eric Doyle

Electronic warfare is being waged alongside the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, as the battling factions stage e-mail attacks on each other's Internet service providers (ISPs).

Each attack is preceded by call-to-action chain letters giving details of what to target and when. At the appointed hour, sites are bombarded with e-mails in a concerted attempt to bring down the servers.

"What we are seeing is a variation on the denial of service attack," said Ovum senior analyst Graham Titterington. "The aim is to overburden the server, but on its way across the network, the e-mails can also cause problems in the firewall and network switches."

The first attack brought down the Palestinian Hizballah site just before Yom Kippur. The response came against the Israeli government and the Israel Defence Force Web sites, both hosted by ISP NetVision. The company claims there was no break in service but many users said they could not go online that night.

Titterington said, "Preventing the attacks may require new products to be developed. These may be the first such attacks but they will not be the last."

Political e-mail action was also seen last week when Amnesty International switched its letter-writing campaigns to e-mail. The subject was Kurdish activist Sehmuz Temel, who was freed within two days after 2,200 e-mails were sent.

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