Hackers Attack Israeli Stock Exchange, Airline Sites

Dennis Faas's picture

Online battles between Saudi and Israeli hackers have moved from credit card hacks to the shutting down of whole websites.

The online 'war' began early this month, when a hacker claiming to be from Saudi Arabia published stolen Israeli credit card details.

The actual location of the hacker, who used the code-name xOmar 0 (and variations, such as OxOmar), remains in dispute, with some experts claiming he is in Mexico. Assertions about the number of compromised credit card accounts also vary from 15,000 to 400,000.

Political Leaders Speak Out

The credit card attack had political ramifications.

A senior Israeli official described it as terrorism and said the country had the right to respond with retaliatory online attacks. A spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas, however, praised the assaults, further inflaming tensions.

Soon after, a different hacker using the similar name OxOmer published credit card details of citizens from several Arab countries, and said more hacks would follow. That prompted the original xOmar 0 to publish another 200 sets of Israeli details. Both hackers vowed continued activity.

It's suggested that OxOmer may be an Israeli military member, though there's no evidence he was acting in an official capacity. (Source: jpost.com)

Major Israeli Websites Come Under Pressure

Now the Saudi attacker appears to have changed tactics, warning that he will target the websites of both the Israeli stock exchange and El Al, the country's major airline.

El Al voluntarily took its public website offline for a short period, and announced that its booking and flight record systems remain intact. The Israeli stock exchange site suffered disruption that left it significantly slowed but still active.

The attacks have not affected electronic trading systems. (Source: usatoday.com)

Cyber Attacks likely due to Distributed Denial of Service

It appears both the attack on the stock exchange site and the threatened attack on the airline were made by denial of service attacks ("DoS"), which involve sending millions of requests for computer access to a site in order to keep it so busy that it becomes inaccessible to ordinary, genuine visitors.

Typically, DoS attacks utilize thousands (usually hundreds of thousands) of PCs to engage in the attack. The majority of these machines are unknowingly hijacked from an installed virus or some form of malware. The computer owner is usually unaware that their computer is engaged a distributed denial of service attack, or spam attack, which can last days, months, or longer.

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