Once again, Israeli sites were invaded last weekend by Arab “hacktivists,” hackers who specialize in taking down Israeli sites to express their anger at Israeli policies.
This time it was “Arutz Meir,” a popular Israeli site with Torah lectures for adults and plays, games and educatonal activities with Jewish content for children. The site was compromised by a group of Turkish hackers on Shabbat a week ago, with the hackers replacing the site's main page with anti-Israel slogans and caricatures.
Dina Cohen, director of the site, told Israel National News that the site was quickly repaired after Shabbat. Tens of thousands of Israeli children, mostly from the religious-Zionist sector, who eagerly await each episode of the mischievous Asi, wise Tuvia and riotous chicken-puppet Pulka series, breathed a sigh of relief.
“We have an idea why they might have targeted us,” she said. “Several days earlier we ran an interview with a Muslim convert to Judaism, who, despite his being educated in mosques in Gaza and Hevron, rejected Islam and joined the IDF."
Yoram, the site's technology manager, said that the site's defenses would be strengthened in order to ensure that the attack would not be repeated.
Site invasions are a constant problem and annoyance for system managers and website owners around the world. Many hackers send out viruses and malware to seek out security holes on websites, quickly hijacking a site and posting their “victory” messages on it, informing the world of their hacking prowess. Arab and Muslim hackers do not necessarily target only Israeli sites; they post their anti-Israel creed on any site they can successfully hack. “Of course, they're happy when they hit Israeli sites, but any site anywhere will do,” says Internet expert Steven Cohen.
Anti-Israel hackers are just a small minority of hackers worldwide, says Cohen. “The largest group of hacktivists is the group Anonymous, which specializes in political attacks on banks, politicians, and basically any idea or concept they don't like.”
Could Arab hacktivists eventually bring down a major site in Israel, like the Knesset site or the Bank of Israel site?
“It's certainly possible, and therefore the responsibility on website managers for these sites is all the greater,” Cohen says, “They'd much rather take out major sites, but if Arutz Meir is all they can get to, they will start with that.”