Israel Hits Back At Hamas Cyber Attackers

 Israel has carried out a military airstrike in response to an attempted cyber-attack launched by terrorist group Hamas. Israeli warplanes stopped an attempted Hamas cyber-attack, with airstrike that ‘removed’ its HQ.

It is thought to be the first time that a nation-state has retaliated with physical military action in real time against a cyber-attack. But an airstrike should come as no surprise. Ever since 2011 the United States for example said it reserved the right to retaliate with military force against a cyber-attack from a hostile state.

Cyber Defence

News that Israel had used warplanes against cyber attackers came after the Israel Defense Force (IDF) tweeted the news.

“We thwarted an attempted Hamas cyber offensive against Israeli targets,” the IDF tweeted. “Following our successful cyber defensive operation, we targeted a building where the Hamas cyber operatives work. HamasCyberHQ.exe has been removed.”

At the weekend there had been a flurry of attacks between Hamas and the IDF. Hamas reportedly fired more than 600 rockets into Israel, killing four people and injuring dozens. The IDF carried out its own strikes against hundreds of what it characterised as military targets, with at least 27 Palestinians reportedly killed.

This included the airstrike against the cyber operation of Hamas, apparently housed in a building in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas cyber-attack operation was reportedly not sophisticated and there is no news on what targets inside Israel were targeted.

Cyber Warfare

The news that Israel has carried out a military strike against hackers is a noteworthy development in the cyber security landscape. Last year President Donald Trump reportedly reduced the rules to be followed and relaxed the complex guidelines that have to be followed if the United States were to launch a cyber-attack against a rogue nation. All of this comes amid concern in Washington and the West that Russia is no longer concerned about its hacking activities remaining covert.

The UK has also been beefing up its cyber operations.

Indeed, the UK has at least doubled its cyber-attacks in recent years, as GCHQ ramped up its ability to hit back at those launching cyber-attacks against this country. This is one of many findings in an official report from the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC), the cross-party body of nine parliamentarians from the Commons and the Lords, tasked with overseeing the work of British intelligence agencies.

“Many of the current cyber threats facing the UK involve damage to the economy, individual prosperity or privacy. However, increasingly there is a risk of physical damage in the ‘real world’.

The number of devices, processes and functions connected to the internet, ranging from parts of the Critical National Infrastructure to WiFi-enabled domestic appliances, has grown exponentially in recent years.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term used to refer to physical devices (including home appliances, vehicles and buildings) embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that enables them to collect and exchange data, and that connectivity makes them vulnerable to cyber-attack with potential for direct ‘real-world’ impact.”

The report, part of it have been redacted, also pointed out that the UK is facing a diverse range of cyber threats including from state actors (Russia, China, Iran, North Korea etc), to organised crime groups and terrorist organisations, as well as individual criminals.

In April 2018 the UK made a rare public admission that it had carried out a cyber-attack on the Islamic State terrorist group. The statement, by the Director of the Intelligence Agency GCHQ Jeremy Fleming, is the first time that the UK has specifically eroded the online efforts of an enemy in a military campaign.

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