Diplomacy & defense

'Anonymous' coordinated attack on Israeli websites comes after institutions tightened their cyber security

Several Israeli government websites were hacked early Monday morning and remained offline as part of a coordinated attack by Anonymous, Israeli website Arutz Sheva reported. The websites, which included Israel's Ministry of Education as well as its Airports Authority, were disabled and people were no longer able to access them for a time.

Government institutions tightened their cyber security starting last week by asking civil servants to refrain from opening their work email accounts until later this week. Israelis were also asked to change their passwords and check credit card activity in order to ensure no unknown purchases were made in their name.

The hackers, who go under the banner of Anonymous – a loose-knit group hacker activists, or "hacktivists," – dubbed the planned attack "Op Israel."

"On April 7, 2014, we call upon our brothers and sisters to hack, deface, hijack, database leak, admin takeover, and DNS terminate the Israeli Cyberspace by any means necessary," the entity stated in a YouTube video posted April 2.

However it appears the http://www.opisrael.com/ website was hacked by pro-Israeli entities who posted a message reading "There's No Palestine!!" and a video of the same name.

Anonymous made several attacks on Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense, when Israel conducted air strikes in the Gaza Strip to stem the tide of rockets being launched by Hamas and its affiliates.

Since then, the AnonGhost group has carried out two other campaigns against Israeli websites. The first, named #OpIsrael, took place in April on Holocaust Remembrance Day. The second and most recent campaign, bearing the title #OpIsraelReloaded, started on Jun. 7, 2013, and was in response to a retaliatory Israeli hacker campaign named #OpIslam.

The group enlists hackers across the world to vandalize Israeli websites or cause a surge in traffic using distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks to render sites inactive. Both attack methods can be done using automatic tools that require little to no skill in programming.

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