Arab Israeli Arrested for Cyber-Sabotage of Israeli Websites

Police have arrested a 17-year-old Arab Israeli involved in an international group of hackers that targeted Israeli websites for cyber-vandalism.

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

Police have arrested a 17-year-old Israeli Arab for involvement in an international group of hackers that targeted Israeli websites for cyber-vandalism. In 2006, the hackers managed to shut down about 750 Israeli websites and their attacks have caused millions of shekels in damage.

The group, calling itself "Team-Evil", apparently includes hackers in Saudi Arabia,
The hackers managed to shut down about 750 Israeli websites.
Lebanon, Turkey, and other Muslim countries. Three main networks from which the virtual terrorism originated were found to have been located in Saudi Arabia, and police suspect that other Arabs with Israeli citizenship are involved, as well.

The Israeli youth arrested in recent days was apprehended after an 18-month investigation.  The young man's mother attempted to hide his personal computer when police arrived at the house, but the computer was found, and investigators found additional evidence of the teen's criminal activity.  He will be charged with several serious computer-related crimes.

In June of 2006, around 750 Israeli websites were hacked in one day in a coordinated campaign. The sites were taken down and replaced with a screen displaying the message: "Hacked by Team-Evil Arab hackers u KILL palestin people we KILL Israeli servers." Among the targeted sites were those of Bank Hapoalim, a Haifa-area hospital, the Israeli representatives of international car manufacturers BMW, Subaru and Citroen, and of the Kadima party. Most of the vandalized sites were back to normal operation within a day.

A more recent attack with the same signature occurred in August 2007, when the Likud party's official website was defaced. The content on the main page of the site was replace by anti-Israel slogans and party logos were replaced with anti-Semitic symbols, including swastikas.

'No Better Prepared Than Two Years Ago'
Danny Lieberman, CTO of Software Associates, a professional security consultancy based in Israel, said that the latest arrest "doesn't say anything about the ease of catching hackers." The 2006 attack indicated "a higher level of technical skill by the attackers than that usually seen by similar groups. However, the tools [used in the attack were] very simple and they succeeded because the Web application [exploited by the hackers] was not updated with the latest security patches."

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Lieberman observed that there has been no significant improvement in Israeli IT security since the 2006 attacks. "As a rule," Lieberman said, "most Israeli companies are better at buying security technology than sustaining a business process of fixing application software bugs. Most Israeli IT managers are fighting yesterday's security battles and have an attitude that security is their employees' problem not theirs. The prevailing mentality and sloppy maintenance mean that Israeli IT managers are no better prepared than they were two years ago."

The Associated Press reported in 2006 that Team-Evil had begun hacking and vandalizing US government websites as early as 2004. In 2002, an Israeli hacker named Ehud Tannenbaum, known as "The Analyzer", was sentenced to 18 months in jail for breaking into the NASA, Pentagon, and Defense Ministry computer systems, among other virtual locations.