Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Cyber Warfare Component to Israel's Pillar of Cloud Op


Israeli Defense Forces have been engaged in missile attacks against Hamas targets in Gaza off and on for about a month, however it has escalated in the wake of the killing of Ahmed Jabari, Hamas’ military chief of staff on November 14, 2012. Hamas has announced at least 8 deaths since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud (aka Pillar of Defense), which has primarily involved missile attacks from both sides and the campaign is intensifying.

Operation Pillar of Cloud is reminiscent of Operation Cast Lead which occurred during December '08 - January, '09, however Cast Lead had a widely publicized cyber component in which tens of thousands of attacks were launched by Israeli and Arab hackers against government websites and communications infrastructure on both sides. To date, no such action has been publicized short of an Information Operation being conducted on Twitter between the IDF and the al-Qassam Brigades.

However, back in October when the missile attacks first began, the IDF announced that it was stepping up its recruiting efforts for computer-savvy soldiers. This announcement came the day before the IDF was to hold an awards ceremony honoring 12 soldiers "engaged in the army's cyber-defense activities".  I checked on the likelihood that offensive cyber operations by the IDF would be included in Operation Pillar of Cloud with retired Mossad officer, Michael Ross, who told me that it's safe to say that "every IDF operation includes cyber network attacks of a greater or lesser scale."

Finally, there's this announcement which appeared today on Twitter:


While it's too early to know for sure the scale of cyber warfare running concurrently with this operation, one thing is certain. The Middle East is proving to be the best practical "lab" there is for studying what does and doesn't constitute acts of cyber warfare.

UPDATE 16NOV12 0424PST: Arab hacker group Oujda-Tech Group (formerly Mr. Ben Laden) defaced 40 Israeli websites (non-government) to protest Gaza missile strikes.

UPDATE 15NOV12 2000PST: Th3J35t3r takes down Hamas-friendly websites including ".qassam.ps"and "hamasinfo.net".

UPDATE 15NOV12 1728PST: Anonymous aligns itself with Gaza and against the IDF:
[W]hen the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand. As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack learned the hard way - we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch. To the IDF and government of Israel we issue you this warning only once. Do NOT shut down the Internet into the "Occupied Territories", and cease and desist from your terror upon the innocent people of Palestine or you will know the full and unbridled wrath of Anonymous.
UPDATE 15NOV12 1110PST: Evan Kohlmann (@IntelTweet) posted via Twitter today: "Hackers in Gaza have leaked 35,000 credit card numbers of "Zionist civilians" as a "response from the lions to the aggression of the Jews."

Related

Early Warnings: Cyber and Kinetic Warfare in Gaza (RecordedFuture.com)
Anonymous Attacks Israeli Air Force Website and Other Targets

2 comments:

  1. I would say, its 'information warfare' operation in greater or lesser scale - I am not sure how well 'platformized' the real cyber network capabilities are for maneuver like this...

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  2. ...I have to append my comment: Attacking against cellular infrastructure can (as method is unknown) in deed be included in cyber warfare capabilities, however, it can be performed with EW (Electronic Warfare) by disabling bandwidth etc. - its matter of viewpoint here. Especially here. Can you really believe what one party is saying? #infowar

    Leaking credit card information seems to be one of the 'scariest' methods it is possible to enable during the full scale offensive, in THIS theater - or has someone witnessed any ICS (SCADA) insertions?

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