Israel’s government has issued a statement saying that the country’s government websites had been targeted through cyberattacks, but the services were restored soon after the initial attack.
According to the statement, hackers targeted the government websites of the ministry of defense and the ministry of interior, among other non-government websites, with a denial of service [DDoS] attack. DDoS attack overwhelms the website’s server by flooding it with data requests, eventually paralyzing it.
Israeli’s National Cyber Directorate said on Twitter that the DDoS attack temporarily prevented access to select government and other websites, but that was the extent of the attack. The Israeli government managed to get the website back up and running within a short period of time. Although, according to the web monitoring group NetBlock, the government websites remained unreachable from outside Israel for quite a bit longer.
The Directorate, which operates through government funding, has been warning government officials since last year that the frequency and the intensity of cyber attacks on Israel and worldwide have been increasing consistently. According to AlJazeera, sources from the inside of Israel’s defense establishment say that this was the largest cyberattack ever been launched against Israel.
The country’s ministry of communications has already conducted an emergency assessment of the situation but has failed to identify where the attack came from.
Previously, cyberattacks against Israel have been linked to Iran. Iran and Israel have a tense relationship, characterized by cyberattacks and real-life targeting of physical sites. Just last Sunday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at an alleged Israeli strategic center in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. However, the local authorities deny that there is an Israeli site there. The Iranian attack followed an incident of two Iranian officers getting killed in a rocket attack launched against Syria. Iranian officials blamed Israel for the killing of the officers.
Apart from the complicated history, it is clear that cyber attacks are becoming a more prominent tool in conflict and warfare. Launching an attack on any government, even something relatively harmless like a DDoS attack, can damage the country’s reputation among its population. That is because incidents like these convey to the people that their government does not have sufficient cyber defense mechanisms.
But there are even more complicated types of attacks that can have severe consequences for the victim. So every country needs to have robust cyber defenses and not underestimate hackers’ real threats and capabilities.
The increase in frequency and the quality of cyberattacks is a great cause for concern, even for everyday people. While most of us aren’t directly involved in cross-country conflicts, we may still fall victim to massive cyberattacks designed to intimidate and damage the countries’ social fabric. But we, the daily internet users, aren’t so helpless after all. There are a couple of ways you can guard yourself against cyber threats and hackers without giving up the internet and all its benefits.
Use a VPN when going online
Despite what most people would like to believe, our internet history is not so inaccessible to other people. Your ISP or an experienced hacker can use your unprotected internet connection to snoop on your internet activity and maybe even get some sensitive details or your personal information. When you go online without any protection, your IP address is exposed, meaning that your ISP can tie all your internet activity back to you. These companies will often sell that data to third parties to make some money on the side. When you use VPN, your connection goes through a secure tunnel, concealing your internet activity and granting you privacy online. If you don’t want your ISP or some third party looking at what you do online and then using it against you, definitely connect to a VPN server before going online.
The so-called phishing techniques trick users with believable email texts asking for personal details, financial information, or transactions. These have been around for quite some time but continue to trick those who have never heard of them before. A good rule of thumb is to never click on any link that looks suspicious or seems to resemble a popular website but doesn’t quite match the original spelling. Look out for odd messages in your inbox and never interact with them. These emails will contain malware, which can easily ruin your device.
In some cases, it can give the hacker access to your accounts, depending on the type of malicious link they’ve sent out. In other cases, if you’ve interacted with the email and maybe even given out information they requested, this can easily end in financial fraud.
Even though the internet is generally a safe space for everyone, if you are not careful about malicious links, suspicious emails, and nosy ISPs, you can get in trouble very fast, so stay alert to stay safe online.