"A Saudi-based hacker calling himself 0xOmar last week revealed several batches of credit card details affecting at least 14,000 Israeli cardholders. The hacker claimed to have access to a far greater trove of personal information, warning at first that he had uncovered the credit card details of about 400,000 Israelis. "
"Israeli officials say they are not certain the hacker is indeed based in Saudi Arabia, and whether he is acting alone or as part of a group. "
From today's FT, FYI,
Last updated: January 8, 2012 3:56 pm
Israel seeks revenge for hacking
By Tobias Buck in Jerusalem
The Israeli government has threatened to retaliate against the hacker who last week published the credit card details of thousands of Israelis, with one senior official comparing the cyberattack to a “terrorist operation”.
Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister, warned that the attack represented “a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such”. He added: “Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action.”
A Saudi-based hacker calling himself 0xOmar last week revealed several batches of credit card details affecting at least 14,000 Israeli cardholders. The hacker claimed to have access to a far greater trove of personal information, warning at first that he had uncovered the credit card details of about 400,000 Israelis. He later claimed to possess personal information about no fewer than 1.1m Israelis – a boast that is being treated with caution by Israeli officials.
Israeli credit card companies have said there is so far little sign of financial damage as a result of the hacking attack. However, on Sunday Israeli media reported the arrest of an 18-year-old Israeli man who used the leaked credit card information to buy, among other things, a Galaxy smartphone and a tablet computer.
Israeli officials say they are not certain the hacker is indeed based in Saudi Arabia, and whether he is acting alone or as part of a group.
Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli daily, published what it claimed was an email exchange with 0xOmar on Friday. In it, the hacker insists that his attack was politically motivated, accusing Israel of “genocide” and of breaking “legal international rules”. He adds: “I want to harm Israel financially and socially.”
Cyber attacks have become a source of growing concern in Israel, prompting the government to set up a National Cyber Directorate last year. The directorate is responsible for shoring up the country’s defences against cyber attacks, but is also supposed to help Israeli companies that specialise in cyber security.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, said at the time that Israel should be “in the vanguard of the cyber field around the world”. Aside from the security aspect, he said, there was “great economic opportunity here”.
The websites of the Bank of Israel and of Tel Aviv municipality have been targets for politically motivated hacking attacks in recent years. Last November, the websites of the Israeli army, the Mossad spy agency and the Shin Bet internal security service all crashed simultaneously. Israeli officials said the failure was not due to a hacking attack.
The denial came despite a threat only days earlier by Anonymous, the group of hackers and online activists, warning of an impending cyberattack against Israel.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012.