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Israel claims Anonymous cyber attacks caused minimal impact

Warwick Ashford

Hacktivist collective Anonymous launched cyber attacks on Israeli websites at the weekend as part of a threatened pro-Palestinian campaign, but officials say the damage has been minimal.

In a statement last week, Anonymous said “elite cyber-squadrons” around the world would unite in solidarity with the Palestinian people to “disrupt and erase Israel from cyber space”.

The group warned Israel not to shut down the internet in Gaza and to "cease and desist from your terror upon the innocent people of Palestine or you will know the full and unbridled wrath of Anonymous."

While the group claimed to have affected thousands of websites, local media reports said only the databases of small websites were leaked and the attacks failed to cause significant disruption.

Major government websites remained functional throughout Sunday, according to the Jerusalem Post, which said it had also managed to thwart attempts to hack its website.

An information security company, which set up a situation room to monitor the attack, reported that the small websites that were hacked had not taken basic security measures.

The security firm said that several distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks were launched on government websites, but that the sites withstood the attempts to flood their servers.

Hactivists reportedly hit the websites of the premier's office, the defence ministry, the education ministry and the Central Bureau of Statistics, among others. However all appeared to be running normally, according to Australian reports.

"As of midday the sites of the government of Israel are available to the public, as they have been all weekend," the finance ministry said in a statement.

Later on Sunday, the foreign ministry website was paralysed for a few moments before returning to normal, the finance ministry said, warning of possible slowdowns or temporary cuts on official sites.

The Hacker News published what it said were links to hacked sites and said 60 million hacking attempts were made, but added that most of the attacks had made little impact.

Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, of the National Cyber Bureau, told The Independent that there was hardly any real damage. “Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure,” he said.

Israel has bolstered its cyber defences in the past year, particularly since it last came under attack by Anonymous in November 2012.

During an eight-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the Jewish state said it had been targeted by an unprecedented mass cyber-warfare campaign.

At the time, Anonymous claimed it had downed or erased the databases of nearly 700 Israeli sites in protest over what it said was Israeli threats to cut all internet and other communication in Gaza.


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