Several groups of hackers are reportedly planning a concentrated attack on hundreds of popular Israeli Internet pages beginning on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. In the past two weeks, data security agencies have discovered that "robots" were planted in the computerized systems of a number of commercial companies, and the robots are set to become operational on Feb. 14, effectively shutting down the Internet sites of those companies.
Although some of the "time-bombs" were neutralized, many sites are still unaware of their existence. According to Shai Blitzblau, managing director of Maglan Information Defense Technologies Ltd., the attack has been planned and is being executed by a group of hackers five times larger than those Israel has recently seen. Blitzblau said that the hackers enjoy the media coverage that follows their cyberattacks, and have found that a large portion of Israel's Internet systems only include basic level protection, leaving them open to penetration, disruption and damage.
In the past two days alone, 400 Israeli sites have been hacked, the majority of them receiving robotic "implants" that are scheduled to begin attacking other Israeli sites. Some sites will experience "denial of service" situations and others will communicate signals associated with a virtual attack, preventing many legitimate Internet users from entering the sites.
The attacks will be hard to prevent, since the hackers manage to infiltrate Israeli systems and schedule a hack that originates in local servers. Blitzblau said that total prevention of such cyberattacks requires larger budgets, with initial costs as high as $1 million. Only sites maintained by large corporations, such as banks, can cover the costs. The protection procedure involves real-time analysis of every parameter's modifications, and constant maintenance of the protection system.
Meanwhile, a new report positions Israel as a global leader in cyber-readiness, a new study reveals.
According to the Global Cyber Defense Report by McAfee and Security & Defense Agenda, which was unveiled on Monday, Israel ties with Finland and Sweden against potential hacking attacks. Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K., Spain and the U.S. were also lauded for their preparation, while China, Russia, Italy and Poland were highlighted as being sorely unprepared.
In the scope of its evening debate on "Improving global cyber-governance", the SDA launched its flagship report "Cyber-security: The vexed question of global rules", based on over 80 interviews with senior specialists and policy makers and a survey of 250 experts from around the world.
Isaac Ben-Israel, a senior security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was quoted in the report as saying that Israel sees 1,000 cyber attacks per minute.
McAfee analysts employed a five-point scale for ranking each nation's readiness for attack, and no country received a perfect score. Israel, Finland and Sweden each scored four and half points based on the analysts' subjective perceptions of their readiness to handle all varieties of attacks and threats.
The survey's administrators feel that subjectivity is what gives the survey its power. "The subjectiveness of the report is its biggest strength," Raj Samani, McAfee's chief technology officer, was quoted as saying by the BBC. "What it does is give the perception of cyber-readiness by those individuals who kind of understand and work in cyber security on a day-in, day-out basis."
Cyberattack on Palestinian news agencies
Meanwhile, in the continuing cyberwar, officials said cyberattacks shut down the websites of the two main Palestinian news agencies, the official Wafa and the privately run Maan.
Wafa's chief editor, Ali Hussein, and Maan's technology supervisor, Haitham Moussa, said they don't know who is behind Tuesday's attacks. Hussein says the website of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement was also targeted.
The attacks came several days after hackers disrupted the websites of an Israeli hospital, a leading newspaper and Israel's official cultural festival.
Those attacks were seen as part of a politically motivated cyberattacks against Israeli sites.