Israel's deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom has become the latest victim of the escalating cyber conflict between Israel and Palestine after his social media accounts were hacked and used to issue pro-Palestine propaganda.
Shalom’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger and LinkedIn accounts were hacked by a pro-Palestine group known as ZCompany Hacking Crew (ZHC), The Times of India reported.
The group is said to have posted videos on Shalom's YouTube account depicting alleged Israeli atrocities against Palestine, while typical tweets included: "Get out of Palestine > Israeli Zionists! Stop the attacks! End the slaughter of innocent people!!”
Although the social media accounts have now been reclaimed or taken offline, the hackers threatened to release private documents, contacts and even personal photos they claimed to have obtained by cracking Shalom's Gmail and Picasa account.
The attacks are the latest in a continuing online theatre of conflict which sparked into life after Israeli forces launched Operation Pillar of Defense – pounding Gaza for over a week in what it claimed was a bid to target terror groups in the region that had been firing rockets at civilian targets within Israel.
Pro-Palestine hacktivists, including Anonymous, have sought to hit back, launching an estimated 100 million DDoS and web defacement attacks on Israeli web sites, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
"In the first two days of the operation, we saw as many attempts to hack government websites as we usually see in a full month," acting head of E-Government, Ofir Ben Avi, told the paper.
"The number of denial-of-service attacks is like nothing we've ever seen before."
The Bank of Jerusalem’s online services were apparently taken out for a few hours, as was the Israel Defense Force’s blog, and hundreds of privately-owned Israeli web sites were defaced with pro-Hamas and Palestine messages.
However, for the most part Israel’s tech defences appear to have held firm, which one would expect from a country which allegedly had a hand in the development of the infamous Stuxnet and Flame malware.
Israel also had the upper hand in that Gaza’s internet and telecommunications networks run in and out of the country, giving Jerusalem the option of choking traffic in the region if it chooses to do so. ®