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April 1, 2019 1:32 pm

Israel Expected to be Hit by Annual Cyber Attack Next Week

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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A major cyber attack on Israel is expected to take place on Sunday, April 7.

According to the Hebrew news site Mako, the attack will be a semi-organized international hacking assault, and has aroused particular concern because it comes two days before Israel’s general elections.

Boaz Dolev, CEO of the cyber-security firm Clearsky, told Mako that the attack, known as “OpIsrael,” is an annual occurrence undertaken by anti-Israel activists from around the world, including “many Arab countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Malaysia, the Gaza Strip; and Western countries like Turkey, France, the US.”

He noted that the online anarchist movement Anonymous would also be involved in the attack.

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Although the annual assault is loosely coordinated, it is not a phenomenon in which individual hackers act on their own initiative. “There are those who have made specific connections between each other over the years,” said Dolev.

The planned attacks are not technically sophisticated, Dolev pointed out, and “for the most part, we are talking about tools that anyone with minimal technical knowledge can download from the internet.” Most hackers will confine themselves to denial-of-service attacks, breaking into specific websites, and other basic forms of hacking.

Ordinary web users, Dolev said, should make sure that all their email and social media accounts are protected with a double identification protocol, in which users must identify themselves with something more than a simple username and password. They should also beware of unfamiliar messages on their smartphone apps.

Most of the damage done by previous OpIsrael attacks, he pointed out, has been the acquisition of Israelis’ names, passwords, email addresses and credit card numbers by hackers.

Asked whether more extensive damage was expected from this year’s attacks, Dolev replied, “The OpIsrael attacks usually hurt relatively small sites. … Over the years, they haven’t succeeded in causing serious damage to Israel’s online infrastructure. … Therefore it’s reasonable to expect that this year it will have similar results.”

Regarding the upcoming Knesset elections, Dolev said, “Usually, events of this kind cause a rise in the attackers’ motivation, therefore, it is likely that this will not only increase the scope of activity, but also ‘confusion’ between the OpIsrael attackers and more skilled attackers originating in states and terrorist organizations.”

“In principle,” he continued, “such attacks are directed primarily at state institutions, government ministries, and public organizations. After them, the attackers also try to reach private companies. For the most part, those who pay the price are the small businesses and citizens, which are easiest to harm.”

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