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Hacker Groups Launch Cyberattacks Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict

Several hacker groups, some linked to nations like Iran and Russia, have targeted Israel with cyberattacks in the past week, possibly coinciding with the recent Oct. 7 Hamas attack.


On the messaging platform Telegram, these groups claimed to have infiltrated various Israeli systems, including websites, the national electric grid, a rocket alert application, and even the Iron Dome missile defense mechanism. One of Israel's prominent newspapers, The Jerusalem Post, confirmed a brief downtime due to such attacks.


The extent and true impact of these cyber offensives remain ambiguous. Yet, the attacks signify an intention to amplify physical attacks with digital tactics, reminiscent of the cyber methods used during the early stages of Russia's conflict with Ukraine.


It's not yet clear if there's a direct connection between these hacker groups and national governments, but some do undertake hacks benefiting their host nations. For instance, Iran, known to support Hamas, may indirectly benefit from some of these cyberattacks.


Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Software monitored over 40 groups responsible for disruptions to more than 80 websites since the beginning of the Hamas assault, including those of government agencies and media outlets.


The cyber onslaughts are suspected to originate outside Gaza, considering the region's already weak internet infrastructure which deteriorated further due to recent power outages and bombings.


A Western ex-cybersecurity official speculated that coordinating these cyberattacks with the physical Hamas invasion might have been improbable, as conventional communication methods were used to plan the latter to avoid detection.


Gil Messing from Check Point noted that the authenticity of some hacking claims is questionable, with some groups possibly recycling old data breaches.


However, U.S. Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn.) warns against underestimating these hackers, highlighting their increasing proficiency.


Comparatively, Israel's current cyber predicament seems milder than the digital chaos accompanying Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, during the recent attack, Hamas employed tangible strategies like targeting surveillance weak spots, bulldozing barriers, and shooting down drones.


Recent cyber incidents include disruptions to the Jerusalem Post's online presence and a switch from Zoom to Google for video calls by the Israeli ministry of education following interruptions by alleged Hamas militants.


Certain claims, like those by the pro-Russian group Anonymous Sudan and another by the Iranian-aligned Cyber Av3ngers, remain unverified.


Alex Leslie from Recorded Future believes that most cyberattacks by hacktivist groups are likely reactionary.


The ties between Hamas and Tehran, along with past cyber incidents involving Iran and Israel, suggest a potential escalation in digital warfare. Experts even traced a recent anti-Israeli social media disinformation campaign back to Iran.


Israel, a global leader in cybersecurity, remains a formidable target. Furthermore, the U.S. has heightened its cyber support for Israel recently, and the country's tech sector has mobilized citizen-led cyber defense initiatives in response to the Hamas attack.


Lt. Gen. Charles Moore observed the puzzling failure of Israeli and U.S. intelligence in detecting Hamas's large-scale operations, while also praising the excellence of Israeli cyber units.

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