The "electronic holocaust" promised by the Anonymous group officially kicked off with a trickle on Tuesday, as hackers hijacked dozens of Israeli websites and released what appeared to be Israelis' private information.
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Threats of cyberattack have become an annual affair, made by anti-Israel activists in retaliation for crimes "in the Palestinian territories."
As in years past, members of the so-called "hacktivist" collective released lists that purportedly contain Israeli credit card numbers, e-mail login data and phone numbers. Some of the information has been released by hackers in previous years; and some of it isn't confidential, including Knesset members' work phone numbers.
Dozens of websites were hacked on Tuesday, two of which belong to Israeli singers Ivri Lider and Shalom Hanoch. Both sites are managed by the same Israeli firm. The Meretz party's website was hijacked over the weekend. Some have dubbed these hacking efforts as "cyber graffiti." Several people reported receiving text messages from the number "007" in Arabic that promised to "liberate the two holy mosques from Jewish children."
The cyber operation was announced in a video posted on Youtube on March 4. In the video, a masked figure in a suit wearing Anonymous' trademark white mask reads out a statement, vowing, "We will erase you from cyberspace as we have every year. The seventh of April 2015 will be an electronic holocaust."
Speaking in English with Arabic subtitles, the masked figure threatens, "As we did many times, we will take down your servers, government websites, Israeli military websites, and Israeli institutions."
The collective first struck in November 2012 after Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense assault on Gaza, and again on April 7, 2013. Last year it also carried out an attack on April 7.
While the 2013 attack managed to draw some concern, it later became clear that most of the hackers taking part in the so-called OpIsrael are amateurs.
Leaks of what appeared to be Israelis' private data began last week, but cyber experts warned on Monday of a movement to organize attacks on a greater scale. According to Hacked-DB, on Thursday 4,655 e-mails and passwords were released, 1,659 of which have been previously leaked. A list of 6,715 e-mail addresses and passwords seemed to be new, although some may turn out to be fake.
As in previous years, the hacking operation so far seems to be a far cry from the grandiose threats voiced by organizers.