TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Saudi hackers have hacked into the Israeli stock exchange, three banks, and a website owned by the country’s national airline El Al, news reports said Monday.
A Saudi hacker behind recent attacks told Israel’s Ynet news site in advance of the latest attack, the site reported. The pro-Palestinian group is referring to itself as “Nightmare.”
The site of El Al crashed but officials at Israel’s flag carrier would not confirm or deny the incident was the work of hackers.
“El Al is aware that for the past two weeks cyber war rages against Israel,” El Al said in an emailed statement. “The company closely monitors the Saudi hacker’s activity.”
El Al also said it had taken precautions that could result in disruptions to their website.
Computer hackers disrupted the website of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Monday but trade was not affected, a spokeswoman for the bourse said.
“There has been an attack by hackers on the access routes to the (TASE) website. The stock exchange’s trading activities are operating normally,” said Orna Goren, deputy manager of the exchange’s marketing and communications unit.
The bourse’s website could be accessed intermittently.
The First International Bank of Israel (FIBI) and two subsidiary banks, Massad and Otzar Hahayal, said their marketing sites had been hacked but that sites providing online services to clients were unaffected.
Israel’s third-largest bank, Discount, said it had been spared attack, but that it was temporarily shutting down foreign access to its website as a precaution.
“They have demanded an apology for Israel’s defensive measures,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on his Facebook page, alluding to the conflict with Palestinians.
“I am using this platform to send a clear message that … they will not silence us on the Internet, or in any forum.”
Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein told a conference in Tel Aviv that the cyber attacks were part of a wider move to smear the country’s reputation and “threaten Israel’s economic stability and security”.
“It’s another episode in the war our enemies are conducting as a campaign of delegitimization to hit our pockets and lifestyle,” he said, in reported comments confirmed by his spokesman.
Latest in string of attacks
Hackers took down the Israeli fire and rescue service website last week, posting messages supporting armed resistance against Israel, Israeli media reported.
Israeli TV Channel 2 said the saboteurs identified themselves as the Gaza Hackers Team and warned of more cyber attacks.
Israel has vowed to hit back at computer hackers after thousands of Israelis’ credit card details were posted online last week, by a hacker who said he was based in Saudi Arabia.
“We will take firm action against those who compromise our security including through cyber-terrorism, and if necessary we will use international law enforcement …
“Cyber-terrorism is the new battleground and just as we defeated our opponents on every other field … we will defeat this as well,” Ayalon said.
The attack on the fire service ridiculed his statement, posting a picture of the minister over-set with footprints.
“Why do you not understand that this is an embarrassing situation for you and that you cannot get out of it? Danny Ayalon said that Israel will respond to hacking of Israeli sites. We break into your sites every day and will continue to do so without interruption,” the hackers wrote.
They also posted: “Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and all the Palestinian factions will fight your army. All prisoners will be released from your prisons. Freedom for Palestine.”
The website was functioning normally a day later.
On Thursday, Israel called on computer hackers not to take the law into their own hands to avenge attacks on Israeli credit card companies, and said the authorities were capable of countering all cyber threats.
After the publication of thousands of personal and credit card details, at least one Israeli hacker declared he had carried out a reprisal cyber-attack on Saudi credit card holders, although the scope of his action could not be verified.
“We call on Israeli citizens to abide by (the law). Just as the Israeli government has found answers for terrorism, we will find answers to this challenge … we call on Israeli citizens not to … act as vigilantes,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in a statement.
The hacker, identifying himself as Saudi-based OxOmar, said last week he had leaked private information about more than 400,000 Israelis. Credit card companies said around 25,000 numbers, some of them expired, had been posted.
After Israeli media ran what they described as interviews conducted with OxOmar by email, the Haaretz newspaper said a blogger had tracked the hacker down and determined he was a 19-year-old citizen of the United Arab Emirates studying and working in Mexico.
Hamas described OxOmar’s actions as “a new form of resistance.”
“We urge Arab youth to ignore these cowardly Israeli threats and to use all means available in the virtual space to confront Israeli crimes,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza last Sunday.