Teen hackers wage Israel v Saudi Arabia cyberwar
Hamas eggs on 'hacktivists' as Israeli government warns no hacker is immune from retaliation
A CYBERWAR is playing out between Israel and Saudi Arabia - prosecuted by teen hackers apparently acting on their own initiative. In the latest skirmish, the websites of the stock exchange in Tel Aviv and the Israeli airline El Al were briefly taken down - possibly with the help of Palestinian hackers.
This particular front in the decades-long struggle between Arabs and Israelis was started by a 19-year-old Saudi hacker calling himself oxOmar, who earlier this month published the details of 15,000 Israeli credit cards on the internet and said in a press release that he had about a million more.
In an interview with Gawker, conducted over Skype, oxOmar – who says he lives with his parents and enjoys playing Xbox games – explained his reasons for the attacks in broken English. "Israel kills Israeli innocent people," he said. "It's what their government do, it's their daily business, they do not obey any law, international law, so I want to harm them in any way I can… [I want to] make Israeli people afraid and be in panic. I want to be their horror. Their nightmare."
However, at least part of his motivation appears to have been simple acquisitiveness. At one point he boasted: "I buy anything I want from internet."
Detective work by bloggers later determined oxOmar might in fact be a student from United Arab Emirates living in Mexico.
OxOmar's 'hacktivism' provoked a revenge attack by an Israeli teen called 0xOmer, who last week published hundreds of Saudi credit card details online. 0xOmer told The Jerusalem Post that he was part of a group of four hackers called 'Israel Defenders', one of whom works in military intelligence for the IDF.
0xOmer's actions inspired another Israeli hacker called Hannibal, who posted the login details of 20,000 Arabs at the weekend. Hannibal decided to include Iran in the fun, writing: "In addition, I have 10 million bank accounts of the countries of Iran and Saudi Arab [sic].
"If Iran continues to threaten Israel and already this week I will publish the private bank accounts and thus make them billions of dollars in damages estimated."
Yesterday, the Saudis struck back, causing minor disruption to El Al and the Tel Aviv stock exchange. Apparently, oxOmar had informed the news site Ynet that the attacks were to take place and would be carried out by "a group of pro-Palestinian hackers referring to themselves as 'Nightmare'."
Anyone who thought the adults might prevail upon their hotheaded youth to pull back from full-scale cyberwar would have been disappointed by the reactions of Hamas and the Israeli government to the online scrap.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters: "Penetrating Israeli websites means opening a new field of resistance and the beginning of an electronic war against Israeli occupation."
This followed an ominous warning by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon that: "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."