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Israeli cyberdefense holds up

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  • Josh Pollack
    Washington Times August 1, 2001 Israel Beats Cyber-Jihad Attacks By Ben Barber, The Washington Times Israel has warded off dozens of cyber-attacks on its
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2001
      Washington Times
      August 1, 2001

      Israel Beats 'Cyber-Jihad' Attacks

      By Ben Barber, The Washington Times

      Israel has warded off dozens of cyber-attacks on its government and
      corporations since the Palestinian uprising began last year, blazing a trail
      that could help the
      United States develop defenses for future electronic conflicts, terrorism
      experts and Israeli officials say.

      "Attacks have come from 19 countries, targeting 50 Israel corporations and
      government Web sites," said RAND analyst Bruce Hoffman. "Israel is
      developing
      cutting-edge defenses against this."

      Israel's development of futuristic tactics in what one Israel official
      called the newest "front" in warfare recalls its battle-testing of American
      jets, tanks and missiles
      against Soviet bloc weapons during the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israel wars.

      Terrorism experts from RAND and from iDefense, an Alexandria firm advising
      the U.S. government and industry, say Israel's experience in beating off
      cyber-attacks
      will likely serve to protect American government and industry against
      similar attacks.

      But the current Middle East conflict is also a proving ground for groups
      intent on fouling up America. "The cyber conflict is serving as a proof of
      concept for rebel,
      terrorist, activist and other disenfranchised groups around the world," said
      an iDefense report on the Middle East conflict.

      As the Middle East cyber-war -- called by some Muslims an e-jihad or
      cyber-jihad -- went on, the world yesterday braced for an expected
      resurgence of a
      cyber-worm programmed to reappear last night.

      Despite Israel's effectiveness in fighting attacks, pro-Palestinian hackers
      from Pakistan and many other Muslim and even Western countries managed to
      deface
      several Israeli and Jewish sites -- even briefly forcing the closure of the
      Israeli foreign and defense ministry Web sites. But efforts to shut down
      Israel's airports,
      ports, banks and stock market all failed.

      "Israel is very aware of the phenomenon [of cyber-attacks] and is taking
      steps to deal with it," said an Israeli Embassy official yesterday.

      Despite recent fears -- often the subject of novels -- that hackers could
      cause airplanes to crash, traffic lights to misfire and electric or water
      systems to go haywire,
      the Israeli official said, "I've never heard of a single successful cyber
      terrorist attack" against these institutions.

      The field is so new that terrorists are constantly seeking to get around
      defenses and to learn how they have been blocked from access to their
      targets, he said.

      He refused to detail any efforts to block cyber-terrorism but acknowledged
      the issue "has come up in U.S.-Israel counter-terrorism talks."

      "I would not say we are totally cyber terrorist proof, but we have made
      efforts to protect our virtual world," he added.

      Attacks against Israel began in earnest after the latest violence between
      Palestinians and Israelis began last September. Pro-Palestinian groups
      attacked 166 Israeli
      Web sites in the next few months, according to the iDefense report.

      Pro-Israeli groups -- which were the first to begin hacking -- meanwhile had
      targeted 34 Palestinian, Arab or extremist sites.

      The report cites attacks on the Palestinian Authority and sites in seven
      countries: Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia,, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates
      and the United
      States.

      The targets include critical Web sites, e-commerce servers, Internet relay
      chat servers, domain name servers, Internet service provider infrastructure
      and file transfer
      protocol sites, iDefense reported.

      "The commercial sector is bearing the brunt of the pro-Palestinian cyber
      assault," the report said. The target industries have been technology,
      telecommunications,
      fi-nance, media and health.

      Since the United States has often been the target of terrorist attacks by
      Muslim groups angry at U.S. support for Israel, Mr. Hoffman and the iDefense
      report
      focused in on the threat of cyber-jihad spreading to American targets.

      "If the United States came to become involved in activity in the region
      which generates a significant level of outrage in the Muslim community,
      there is a distinct
      possibility that U.S. government and commercial organizations will face
      cyber attacks much like those hitting Israel today," said the iDefense
      report.

      Attacks on the United States could be started in from 24 to 48 hours.

      One pro-Palestinian site actually distributed computer viruses such as the
      Love Bug and Melissa, which have infected millions of computers, but it
      admonished those
      who downloaded those viruses to use them only "on Jews and Israelis."

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