by Constantine von Hoffman

Israel Response Making a Mountain out of Molehill-sized Hacks

Jan 11, 20122 mins
CybercrimeData and Information SecurityData Breach

Blowing it out of proportion is a text-book example out of how not to respond.

Last week a hacker who claimed to be pro-Palestinian leaked data on thousands of credit cards taken from Israeli shoppers. Saturday Israel’s government responded pretty much exactly as you would expect them to. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny 

Ayalon called it “a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such.”

Someone claiming to be the hacker, identified himself as OxOmar and claimed to be a Saudi teenager, based in Riyadh. But within hours Israeli hackers (counter hackers?) announced he was actually based in Mexico, where he had moved from the United Arab Emirates. The Israelis also claimed they gotten credit card data from Saudis and were prepared to publish it if the attacks continued. It is impossible to verify any of these claims.

Based on the ineptitude of OxOmar (or whomever it really is), it’s easy to believe he’s a teen, although where he is from is anyone’s guess. This was nothing more than an irritation for the people whose information was disclosed. As soon as the numbers got out the banks were able to take care of the problem. Real harm comes when the information is used, not published.

So right now this is a situation that’s had less impact than a house burglary, but Israel is threatening to make it a whole lot more. Because the nation has been in a state of war since its founding, the government is always willing to raise the rhetoric level to 11 no matter what the circumstances. In this instance all it did was add fuel on the fire.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon’s website was hacked following his comments. Then, on Tuesday, Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, told a parliamentary committee Israel is ready to do whatever is needed vs. cyber terrorism: “From our standpoint we are talking about a meaningful and even critical arena.”

All of this bluster will just ensure that what had been a piece of stupidity will escalate.