Cyber Activism Surges Amidst Escalation of Hamas-Israel Conflict

Amidst the recent escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas, hacktivist groups have launched cyberattacks on Israeli websites. These attacks involve flooding websites with malicious traffic, causing disruptions. The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, reported that its website was down due to these cyberattacks.

Rob Joyce, the director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency (NSA), mentioned that there have been denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and website defacements. However, he did not attribute these cyberattacks to specific groups or nations. It’s worth noting that these attacks are typical during armed conflicts, and they are often carried out by politically motivated hacktivist groups.

Unlike state-sponsored hacking groups, hacktivists are decentralized and not affiliated with governments. While their activities can disrupt websites and services, they are generally less sophisticated than nation-state actors. According to both researchers and government agencies like the NSA, hacktivists appear to be the primary actors in the current cyber conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Security researcher Will Thomas reported that over 60 websites had been taken down with DDoS attacks, and more than five websites were defaced as of Monday. He also noted the involvement of international groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Morocco, expressing support for Palestine.

Additionally, cybercriminal service operators, such as DDoS-for-Hire or Initial Access Brokers, have offered their services to those interested in targeting Israel or Palestine. Initial access brokers are groups that have breached websites and networks and offer access to other hackers in exchange for payment.

It’s important to note that these cyberattacks are unlikely to have a significant impact on the armed conflict. According to experts, the effects of such hacktivist activities are limited and serve more as distractions or information influence.

These cyberattacks come shortly after the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published rules for hacktivists operating during military conflicts, emphasizing that civilian targets should not be hit. In response to the ICRC’s announcement, hacktivists defaced the website of Russia’s Red Cross.

The recent escalation of violence began when Palestinian militants associated with Hamas launched a surprise attack from Gaza, infiltrating Israeli towns and resulting in casualties on both sides. The conflict has drawn international attention and concern.

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