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Israel: Glitch, Not Hackers Brought Down Websites

World's hi-tech superpower says a technical malfunction brought down gov't websites including the IDF, Shin Bet.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/7/2011, 9:09 AM

New IDF website
New IDF website
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Official spokespeople in Israel, the world's leader in hi-tech innovation and Internet security, deny that a hacking attack brought down government websites like a row of dominoes Sunday. The spokespeople say a technical malfunction in a server common to all of the sites caused them to collapse.

Among the sites that displayed error messages for hours on end Sunday are the IDF website, the Mossad website, the Shin Bet website, and the Israel Atomic Energy Agency Commission website

However, security-related agencies were by no means the only victims. About 50 servers collapsed in a chain reaction Sunday, bringing down the websites of the Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, the Ministry of Technology and Sports, the Presidential Residence, the Israel Lands Authority and the Population, the Immigration and Border Authority and the government's public payments website. 

The collapse of the websites came several days after a hackers' group called Anonymous threatened to attack Israel, and was therefore initially believed by many to have been carried out by this group. However, official spokespeople say the proximity of the events is coincidental.

A spokesman for the Finance Ministry, which is in charge of the government websites' common interface, said that there were no signs of a break-in into the system and that "the malfunction was caused by a technical reason that has to do with a certain component in the system."

Carmela Avner, who manages the government interface, said a hardware malfunction was involved. "We can say with 100 percent certainty that there was no attack by Anonymous or any other element, " she added, and claimed that to this day, no one has hacked into the government's websites.

The IDF Spokesman also said that the malfunction was not a hacker attack. 

A successful attack of this magnitude on official Israeli websites including security agencies would have been a morale-booster for the enemies of Israel. Israeli intelligence is widely believed to be involved in the development of an ingenious computer virus called Stuxnet that is believed to have stalled Iranian nuclear development.