Israel National Cyber Directorate warns of cyberattack increase

This time of year, during the month of Ramadan and ahead “Quds Day,” is characterized by an attempt to raise public attention and convey anti-Israel messages | An attack on Israeli university websites was uncovered by Check Point Research 

Illustration. BIGSTOCK / Copyright: LookerStudio

The Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) has issued a warning against an increase in attempts of anti-Israel hackers to carry out cyberattacks during the month of Ramadan. According to the Directorate, as in previous years, this time of year is characterized by attempts to raise public attention and convey anti-Israel messages, using a great deal of fake news in the process.

In the past week, the INCD has noticed an increase in DDOD attacks on a number of Israeli websites, which were briefly downed as a result, within the framework of a hacking activity called #OPIsrael. The INCD warns, that this activity is expected to increase further ahead of “Quds Day,” (Iranian Jerusalem Day, as it is known in Israel), which will take place on April 14th.

“Each year during this period, attacks such as website defacement, distribution of phishing messages, social media hacking, DDoS attacks, intrusion into company websites and information leaks are observed – alongside publications boasting cyberattacks that did not necessarily take place,” said the INCD warning.

“Additional, common attacks are of website storage and building companies, in an attempt to create a wider attack that will increase awareness. It is estimated that similar attempts will take place this year as well, using simple means and exploiting common weaknesses in the cyber sphere.”

The INCD says it has been proactive in protecting Israel’s cyber sphere, working especially with website storage companies. At the same time, the directorate has published a series of recommendations: refrain from opening unknown links or downloading unidentified files; refrain from giving personal information such as passwords, codes or account details; only download apps from official online stores; make sure that you have strong passwords, a different one for each account; implement multi-factor verification in all accounts.

In its weekly threat intelligence report published yesterday (Monday), Check Point Research said that it has been "tracking the hacktivist group Anonymous Sudan, which had been engaged in launching multiple DDoS attacks on organizations in Europe, Australia, Israel and more - often in response to what is perceived as anti-Muslim activity." The reserachers noted that at present, this group is currently  identified as a sub-group of the Russia affiliated hacktivists group Killnet, and supports its agendas.

“Attacks of this type are part of an extensive campaign known as ‘OpIsrael,’ which takes place annually around the time period of Israel’s day of independence,” explains Lior Frenkel, Chairperson of the Cyber Forum at the Israel High-Tech Association, and Founder & CEO of Waterfall Security.

“Although the goal is usually to bring down websites, some of the attacks are aimed at harming business activity and disrupting production processes,” Frenkel said, adding that the Cyber Forum which is heads has received several inquiries in recent days regarding cyberattacks on industrial companies – some of which could be attributed to this time of year.”

“We are constantly working to assist Israel’s industrial sector in raising its level of defense and readiness against cyberattacks – even more so during this period.”

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