Cyberwar, and the Jester scoring 8

The battle into which Israel has been provoked by the terrorist organization Hamas is being fought (we say “is” because the truce is nugatory) with computers as well as armament.

From Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/19/12:

Knowledge of computer code is proving to be as important to Israel’s conflict with Hamas as the Iron Dome system intercepting rockets from the Gaza Strip.

In a government building in Jerusalem, technicians in civilian clothes sit in front of a bank of screens, trying to deflect millions of attempted attacks on Israel’s government websites. A map on the wall shows sites where virtual attacks are being carried out around the world, updating every few seconds. Israel and the Palestinian territories stand out with a big red flame. Extra workers are drafted in.

Hamas is running a campaign called OpIsrael.

“From the very beginning, we called on Palestinian software technicians in Gaza and all over the world to use technology to undermine Israeli websites and pages,” Islam Shahwan, the spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of Interior in Gaza, said in an interview from the enclave.

The clicking of keyboards and mice has already become a hallmark of the conflict’s latest flare up that started on Nov. 14 as much as the sound of rocket fire. Aided by supporters abroad and speedy Internet access, the virtual battle is intensifying in tandem with the air attacks as Israelis and Palestinians try to disrupt the flow of information and hack each other’s propaganda machines.

More than 44 million attempts were made to bring down state websites, [Israeli] Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Nov. 18, standing in the government’s cyber war-room.

“Beyond the main military battlefield, there is a secondary arena,” Steinitz said. “Israel has been under unprecedented cyber attack.”

An Israeli air strike on Nov. 19 hit a 15-floor office building in downtown Gaza City used by the television stations of Hamas …  The second floor of the complex that houses an Internet and computer services company was also damaged, cutting connection to subscribers.

The building was targeted because of the presence of senior terrorist members there, Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said. One of the militants killed in the assault was Ramez Harb, head of Islamic Jihad’s media operations, who Israel said was responsible for propaganda for the group.

Its armed wing, called Saraya al-Quds Brigades, said on its website on Nov. 17 that its intelligence department “managed to penetrate data for 5,000 cellular phones belonging to senior Israeli army officers and got their personal data.”

Sounds impressive, but what did the terrorists do with their penetration?

The group used the mined information to send warnings via text message, saying “we will make Gaza a graveyard for you and your soldiers and we will turn Tel Aviv in to a massive flame,” according to the website. …

Israeli hackers used their penetration to send a more practical warning:

 The Hamas Interior Ministry said on Nov. 18 by text message that Israeli hackers had penetrated and paralyzed its site, and told Gaza residents to seek necessary information on its Facebook page.

The same day, an Israeli speaking broken Arabic on behalf of the Israeli army cut into the transmissions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad radio stations to warn Gaza residents to “keep away from Hamas infrastructure and don’t help the terrorists.”

Later, from Softpedia, by Eduard Kovacs, 11/22/12:

OpIsrael, a campaign launched by hacktivists from all over the world to show support for Palestine, is beginning to fade away. However, during the operation, some pro-Israel hackers have initiated a counteroffensive.

On Monday, an Israeli hacker known as Yourikan leaked the credit card details of several Palestinian users after allegedly breaching the systems of Palnet, one of Palestine’s largest ISPs.

“Say no to Palestine! Say no to terror!” the hacker said after the attack.

His views are shared by the famous hacker known as The Jester, who has been busy over the past few days disrupting Palestinian websites owned or operated by Hamas

The Jester has taken down a forum belonging to Hamas – almoltaqa.ps – that’s allegedly utilized “for radicalizing fighting-age male Palestinians.” He also disrupted qassam.ps, a site utilized by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade “to spread propaganda and lies.”

Other targets are aqsatv.ps, which the hacker describes as being a “HAMAS run TV channel used for spreading propaganda and images of bodies being dragged through streets [by Hamas - see below]“,  and hamasinfo.net.

All the aforementioned sites are currently down and have been in this state for the past couple of days or so.