Members of Anonymous launched a cyber attack on Israeli government websites this weekend following announcements that they would "disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace" for the mistreatment of Palestinians.
Dozens of Israeli websites went down Sunday, but so far officials claim the hacktivists have yet to cause any major disruptions. Anonymous announced via twitter under “#OpIsrael” they had hacked the Ministry of Defense page and many others.
"So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage," said Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, of Israel's National Cyber Bureau.
“Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure. And if that was its intention, then it wouldn't have announced the attack ahead of time. It wants to create noise in the media about issues that are close to its heart," he said.
Officials in Israel say that the sites are only down temporarily. Police websites, which had trouble loading for a short time, are now operating normally.
Despite these claims, almost none of the Israeli websites which Anonymous linked to under #OpIsrael are currently loading.
Israeli sites reported cyber attacks on the stock market website and the Finance Ministry website Saturday night, but the two institutions denied those reports.
Hamas official Ihab Al-Ghussian praised the cyber attack on his official Facebook page. “God bless the minds and the efforts of the soldiers of the electronic battle,” said Gaza’s chief government spokesman.
The Israeli media reported that some small businesses had been targeted and their homepages replaced with anti-Israel messages. Israeli activists then hacked Islamist group websites, throwing up pro-Israel messages.
Shlomi Dolev, network security and cryptography expert at Ben Gurion University, said these cyber attacks are likely to become more common.
"It is a good test for our defense systems and we will know better how to deal with more serious threats in the future," he said.
Dolev, Chairman of the Inter-University-Communication-Center, said the center’s 40 security experts are “looking forward to play with the attackers.”
This is the second cyber attack on Israel allegedly launched by Anonymous. Their November effort to cripple their websites failed to cause any major disruption in service.