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Mid-East Cyber War Heats Up

Samara Greenberg

For years this blog has followed the Middle East’s food wars between Israel and its neighbors. Now, another more serious battle is heating up.

On Monday, computer hackers disrupted Internet access to the El Al website, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and three Israeli banks. This is the second cyber attack against Israeli sites in days. Two weeks ago, a Saudi-based hacker calling himself 0xOmar with anti-Israel sentiments published thousands of Israelis’ personal and credit card information online.

In response, last week an Israeli hacker by the name of 0xOmer — playing off of the Saudi hacker’s name — released hundreds of Saudi credit card numbers. And on Tuesday, a team of Israeli hackers brought down the websites of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange “because lame hackers from Saudi Arabia decided to launch an attack against Israeli sites.” In addition, that same day, an Israeli hacker named Anonymous 972 published the e-mail details of 89 Saudi university students, while another called Hannibal posted a list of 30,000 e-mail addresses and Facebook passwords of “helpless Arabs.”

Israel is home to the largest number of technology startups per capita and is known for its hi-tech expertise and cyber security units in its military and now government. Yet, the raids by anti-Israel hackers reveal Israel’s vulnerability to cyber warfare — and by logical extension, the threat to America as well. The recent events also highlight the potential for politically motivated ‘lone wolf’ hackers to ignite an escalating cyber war, with Arab and Israeli hackers now warning of future retaliation.

Indeed, the cyber sphere will likely be the next field of war, and America and its allies must do all they can to prepare.