April 7 marks the purported beginning of a campaign in cyber-warfare against Israel by the now-famous (or infamous) hacker group Anonymous.
In this new increasingly internet-reliant world, it’s not exactly a wonder that cyberterrorism has become a tool of conflict, especially for dis-empowered groups who wish to make a political statement against the actions of specific nations.
This is the case in the recent Anonymous cyberattacks on Israel — part of an ongoing campaign against the nation entitled #OpIsrael. The first attack was widely publicized on March 25, the weekend prior seeing the release of about 35,000 names and other personal information said to be that of Israeli intelligence agents. The attack was claimed by a branch of Anonymous, but the Times of Israel and Mossad — the Israeli intelligence agency — denies that Anonymous actually scored the names of agents. The Office of Inadequate Security website offered this reality check in response to the original HackRead report: “Think what you want of Mossad’s actions, but they are not stupid ... Covert operatives’ names and contact details thrown into a large database connected to the Internet? Highly unlikely.”
Indeed, upon investigating the files containing purported names of Mossad agents, a blogger deciphered labels on email addresses that point to another source of the “leak.”
If this first attack was ineffective or simply a jab of psychological warfare, it seems that this is just the beginning of a more concerted campaign, which is aimed at “wiping Israel from cyberspace.” The language used to describe the campaign’s aim is similar to the disturbing political language of countries like Iran whose President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated in the past their intent to “wipe Israel off the map.” Apparently, at least one hacker has left the group Anonymous due to its strong anti-Israel and pro-Muslim bias.
#Anonymous gained national airtime publicizing and protesting the offensive cell phone texts, videos, and photos taken by a group of Steubenville juvenile delinquents who erupted into giggles over their friends rape of a young girl at a party. (Watch at your discretion).
The group began its cyberattacks against Israel to advocate for the residents of Gaza and the West Bank against the continued expansion of Israeli settlements into the area, as well as the Israeli breaking of a cease-fire on November 23, which had been negotiated on November 21, 2012. However, after a long history of negotiation, conflict, and death, it seems unlikely that cyberterrorism or “hacktivism” will help move the political process forward to a place of resolution.