Israel and Saudi Arabia in hacking battle

January 12, 2012

Israel and Saudi Arabia in hacking battleForces appearing to come from Israel and Saudi Arabia have engaged in a tit-for-tat round of attacks. But these aren’t physical engagements: rather the field of battle is stolen credit card details.

The attacks began last week when a hacker using the name xOmar 0 and claiming to be from Saudi Arabia published what he said were stolen Israeli credit card details. The details appear genuine but there’s some dispute about exactly how many people are affected: the hacker claims 400,000 (which would be a spectacular amount given Israel’s population of around 7.5 million), while Israeli banks have suggested the number is more like 14,000. It’s also been suggested that xOmar 0 may be operating from Mexico and originally hail from the United Arab Emirates rather than Saudi.

The incident led to Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, declaring such attacks were an act of terrorism and justified a full response from the Israeli government. It appears this referred to officials launching online attacks (even those that are theoretically illegal) rather than physical military action. Perhaps predictably Ayalon’s website was briefly hacked in the wake of his comments.

The government-level provocation continued when Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that was elected to govern the Gaza Strip region, praised the card attack “as an act of creativity”.

Now an attacker claiming to be from Israel and using the clearly retaliatory pseudonym OxOmer has published around details of around 200 Saudi credit card numbers. In response, the Saudi hacker has released details of another 200 Israeli cards. Both sides say they have large stocks of details and are prepared to continue releasing them in batches.

Perhaps the biggest question now is what level of support each hacker has from the relevant political and military officials. There’s speculation that OxOmer is an Israeli serviceman, but there’s no certainty whether he (or theoretically she) is working independently or has the backing or assistance of Israel’s security forces, carrying out the type of response which Ayalon spoke about.

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3 Responses to “Israel and Saudi Arabia in hacking battle”

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