From an Information Security perspective this 2012 has begun with (too) many meaningful events, among which the most resounding so…
The #OpMegaupload and its subsequent Cyber Attacks all over the world, are diverging the attention from what is happening in the Middle East where the Cyber Conflict between Arab and Israeli Hackers is proceeding at an apparently unstoppable pace which forced me to post an update for the events occurred in the last week.
The rapid escalation of personal information leaks which characterized in the first two weeks of January has slightly changed shape, being replaced in the third week by Defacements and DDoS campaigns (targeting also the web sites of two Israeli Hospitals, as to say that a Cyber Geneva Convention is needed). Other dumps has also occurred, but not of the same scale as the first two weeks of January.
Besides the mutual DDoS and defacements to each other web sites, so far a quick calculation shows that since the beginning of this cyber war Arab Hackers have dumped more than 410,000 Credit Cards and 170,000 accounts, while the Israeli Counterparts have published approximately 11,000 Credit Cards, details of 140,000 individuals and 105,000 emails. Even if these data have to be taken with attention since many records have proven to be duplicated or fake, one consideration is clear: even Cyber Wars have their digital casualties.
The worst is yet to come?
Feb 19 2012: Middle East Cyber War Timeline Master Index
I tried to summarize the chain of events that is characterizing the Cyber Escalation in the Middle East. I collected the information from several sources in order to provide a detailed picture of what is happening between Israel and the Arab Countries since the initial claim of 0xOmar. Observing the evolution of the chart, the Cyber conflicts seems to follow the same rules than real wars: innocent victims, propaganda and psyops, different paths of escalation and guerrilla tactics. This Cyber Conflict in Middle East is probably crossing the line: from now the landscape will not be the same anymore.
From the initial action of 0xOmar to the Israeli reaction, passing through the declaration of Cyber Jihad (the chart is updated to Sunday, the 22nd of January), (too) many events have happened, involving different hacking crews, different countries (also some French and Canadian web sites have been defaced) and different kind of attacks. What was started as an endless chain of massive leaks seems to be evolving as isolated actions typical of guerrilla.
Follow the line of a Cyber conflict that, similarly to the real one occurring in the Middle East, appears far from being solved…
Click here for part 1.
The second half of January is gone, and it is undoubtely clear that this month has been characterized by hacktivism and will be remembered for the Mega Upload shutdown. Its direct and indirect aftermaths led to an unprecedented wave of cyber attacks in terms of LOIC-Based DDoS (with a brand new self service approach we will need to get used to), defacements and more hacking initiatives against several Governments and the EU Parliament, all perpetrated under the common umbrella of the opposition to SOPA, PIPA and ACTA. These attacks overshadowed another important Cyber Event: the Middle East Cyberwar (which for the sake of clarity deserved a dedicated series of posts, here Part I and Part II) and several other major breaches (above all Dreamhost and New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric).
Chronicles also reports a cyber attack to railways, several cyber attacks to universities, a preferred target, and also of a bank robbery in South Africa which allowed the attackers to steal $6.7 million.
Do you think that cyber attacks in this month crossed the line and the Cyber Chessboard will not be the same anymore? It may be, meanwhile do not forget to follow @paulsparrows to get the latest timelines and feel free to support and improve my work with suggeastions and other meaningful events I eventually forgot to mention.
The more I look inside the Middle East Cyber War between Israel and the Arab Hackers, the more I realize that it follows exactly the same shape than the real conflict.
In particular this last week has seen a strong reduction of the cyber events between the involved parties, although it is not clear if this was due to stronger cyber defenses enforced, or it was rather a kind of “calm before the storm”.
Among the reported events I considered particularly meaningful the attack of InLightPress, a Palestinian news website, of whom I did not find any other report except the one quoted in the Infographic which comes from a Pro-Israeli Website (this is the reason why this event must be considered with the necessary caution). Maybe it is not directly related to the Middle East Cyber War, anyway it looks like this attack was not originated by Israeli hackers, but had rather been “commissioned” by the Palestinian Authority. In the real world political parties or movement have different wings (typically hawks and doves), it looks like this is true for the cyber world as well. On the other hand, some believe that also the attack carried on last week against the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, considered close to Pro-Palestinian movements, has an internal origin, that maybe explains the subsequent excuses by the alleged authors of the attack (BTW at the above link there is an interesting list of the hack published in pastebin by the Israeli Hackers).
Do you believe the descending trend of the cyber events will be confirmed in the next period, or it is rather a temporary cyber truce before the digital storm?
After some mutual attacks in terms of DDoS and defacements (with a new entry from Morocco and a resounding defacement against the Tel Aviv University Security Studies Program website, the head of the National Cyber Defense Authority), this week has seen the revamping of Credit Cards leaks “thanks” to Zcompany Hacker crew, who dumped more than 200 Credit Cards belonging to Israel And United States.
Even considering this latter event, however, the timeline seems to have confirmed the descending trend, with the early actors of both parties apparently quiet inside their virtual shelters (maybe to elaborate new strategies). But in this apparently calm sky a new thunderstorm threatens the horizon: it is the Anonymous which posted a message promising a reign of terror for Israel…
If you have a look to the Middle East nations involved in the cyber conflict which made attacks or suffered attacks (depicted in the map below that does not include U.S. victim of the latest Credit Card leak and France whose Council of Jewish Institutions was hacked earlier in June), you may easily notice that the virtual geopolitics reflect nearly exactly the real ones (the dotted arrow from Iran indicates the uncertainty of the nationality of OxOmar) with the new entry of Pakistani ZHC.
February 2012 brings a new domain for my blog (it’s just a hackmaggedon) and confirms the trend of January with a constant and unprecedented increase in number and complexity of the events. Driven by the echo of the ACTA movement, the Anonymous have performed a massive wave of attacks, resuming the old habits of targeting Law Enforcement agencies. From this point of view, this month has registered several remarkable events among which the hacking of a conf call between the FBI and Scotland Yard and the takedown of the Homeland Security and the CIA Web sites.
The Hacktivism front has been very hot as well, with attacks in Europe and Syria (with the presidential e-mail hacked) and even against United Nations (once again) and NASDAQ Stock Exchange.
Scroll down the list and enjoy to discover the (too) many illustrious victims including Intel, Microsoft, Foxconn and Philips. After the jump you find all the references and do not forget to follow @paulsparrows for the latest updates. Also have a look to the Middle East Cyberwar Timeline, and the master indexes for 2011 and 2012 Cyber Attacks.
Addendum: of course it is impossible to keep count of the huge amount of sites attacked or defaced as an aftermath of the Anti ACTA movements. In any case I suggest you a couple of links that mat be really helpful:
- List of all vulnerable websites attacked by anonymous Part II (updated daily) (via cylaw.info)
- List of Websites Hacked, Defaced & Taken Down By Anonymous (via valuewalk.com)
Click here for the Middle East Cyber War Master Index with the Complete Timeline.
This week of Cyber War on the Middle East front, has shown a slight change on the Cyber Conflict trend. For the first time since January, psyops have deserved a primary role, maybe on the wake of the video released by the Anonymous against Israel one week ago. Not only the Jerusalem Post calls the video into question, but also argues that it may have been forged by Iran, identifying a state sponsored impersonation behind the entry of Anonymous in this cyber war.
But this has not been the only psyops event as an alleged message from Mossad to the Anonymous has appeared on pastebin, whose beginning sounds like a dark warning: If you want to be a hero start with saving your own lives. Although there are many doubts on its truthfulness, it deserves a particular attention since outlines a new age on psyops, what I call “pastebin psyops”.
But a war is not made only of psyops, so this week has also seen more hostile actions, among which the most remarkable one has been the leak of 300,000 accounts from Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing. This action had been preannounced by a wave of attacks on primary Israeli sites (which targeted also the PM site), and most of all, has been carried on by 0xOmar, the absolute initiator of this cyber conflict.
Palestine has been targeted as well, and it is really interesting to read under this perspective a statement by Ammar al-Ikir, the head of Paltel, the Palestinian telecommunications provider according to whom cyber attacks on Palestinian websites and internet servers have escalated since Palestine joined UNESCO.
On the Iranian front chronicle report of a failed cyber attacks againstPress TV, Iran’s English-language 24-hour news channel and most of all of a controversial statement by Gholam Reza Jalali, a senior Iranian military official in charge of head of the Iranian Cyber Intelligence, according to whom the country’s nuclear facilities have finally been made immune to cyber attacks. And it is not a coincidence that in this week Iran has kicked off the first national conference on Cyber Defense. A matter that deserves a special attention by Tehran because of the growing number of attacks on Iran’s cyber space by US and Israel. On the other hand, Israel did a similar move one month ago, at very early stage of the cyber conflict.
Cross Posted from TheAviationist.
2011 has been an annus horribilis for information security, and aviation has not been an exception to this rule: not only in 2011 the corporate networks of several aviation and aerospace industries have been targeted by digital storms (not a surprise in the so-called hackmageddon) but, above all, last year will be probably remembered for the unwelcome record of two alleged hacking events targeting drones (“alleged” because in the RQ-170 Sentinel downed in Iran episode, several doubts surround the theory according to which GPS hacking could have been the real cause of the crash landing).
But, if Information Security professionals are quite familiar with the idea that military contractors could be primary and preferred targets of the current Cyberwar, as the infographic on the left shows, realizing that malware can be used to target a drone is still considered an isolated episode, and even worse, the idea of a malware targeting, for instance, the multirole Joint Strike Fighter is still something hard to accept.
However, things are about change dramatically. And quickly.
The reason is simple: the latest military and civil airplanes are literally full of electronics, which play a primary role in managing avionics, onboard systems, flight surfaces, communcation equipment and armament.
For instance an F-22 Raptor owns about 1.7 millions od line of codes , an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter about 5.7 millions and a Boeing 787 Dreamliner about 6.5 millions. Everything with some built in code may be exploited, therefore, with plenty of code and much current and future vulnerabilities, one may not rule out a priori that these systems will be targeted with specific tailored or generic malware for Cyberwar, Cybercrime, or even hacktivism purposes.
Unfortunately it looks like the latter hypothesis is closer to reality since too often these systems are managed by standard Windows operating systems, and as a matter of fact a generic malware has proven to be capable to infect the most important U.S. robots flying in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Indian Ocean: Predator and Reaper Drones.
As a consequence, it should not be surprising, nor it is a coincidence, that McAfee, Sophos and Trend Micro, three leading players for Endpoint Security, consider the embedded systems as one of the main security concerns for 2012.
Making networks more secure (and personnel more educated) to prevent the leak of mission critical documents and costly project plans (as happened in at least a couple of circumstances) will not be aviation and aerospace industry’s information security challenge; the real challenge will be to embrace the security-by-design paradigm and make secure and malware-proof products ab initio.
While you wait to see if an endpoint security solution becomes available for an F-35, scroll down the image below and enjoy the list of aviation and aerospace related cyber attacks occurred since the very first hack targeting the F-35 Lightning II in 2009.
Of course aviation and aerospace industries are not the only targets for hackers and cybercriminals. So, if you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011 and 2012 (regularly updated) at hackmageddon.com. And follow @pausparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.
As usual the references are after the jump…
Looks like Israel has approached a “wait and see” strategy, as these last days of cyber war have seen almost exclusively actions against that country without any appreciable response. In a certain sense, most of all at the Israeli site, the cyber conflict seems to have fallen into a rest, even if new actors have entered the scene, as is the case of the Mauritania Hacker Team, who opened with the leak of 2500 Israeli emails and claimed to have hacked the Central Bank of Israel. Despite these events the number and intensity of the attacks is no longer that of the early days.
The frequency of the attacks has drastically fallen, even because the early cyber fighters seem to have disappeared, apart from the AlienZ who, every now and then reappear with some dumps against arab sites (and not only).
In the meantime, Iran is suffering several sparse attacks from the Anonymous, targeting that country in the name of #OpIran, and in contemporary attacks its Azerbaijani neighbors considered close to Israel.
Interesting to notice I also found evidence of internal attacks in Iran against reformist websites considered close to former President Mohammad Khatami. The storyboard follows the same line both in real and virtual world.
Apparently Israel seems not to respond to attacks. A temporary truce or a real turnaround?