Cyberspace wars

By James Eagle

WHILE bombs and bullets have been raining down on Gaza, a different kind of warfare has been conducted in cyberspace – and it’s nowhere near as one-sided as Israel’s assault on a defenceless civilian population.

The Stop the War Coalition’s website is the most high-profile British casualty of a conflict that extends far beyond the boundaries of Israel and Palestine to include NATO and US military websites, Facebook and any number of sites judged to be “pro-Hamas.”

In the past couple of weeks, Stop the War’s site has been hit by multiple denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and vandalised by what the coalition says were “professional” hackers. John Pilger’s site has also been attacked, according to Stop the War.

A group of Israeli students calling themselves Help Israel Win help-israel-win.tk has published a software tool to carry out DoS attacks. It’s been downloaded by thousands of people, even though Help Israel Win’s own site has been hit repeatedly by DoS attacks and even though the software is dangerously similar to that used by spammers and other shady cyber-criminals to create “botnets” of PCs which have been enslaved without the owner’s knowledge.

Hackers using the logo of the Jewish Internet Defence Force, which denies involvement saying that it does not break the law and merely campaigns against online anti-semitism, have attacked pro-Palestinian Facebook groups.

And Israeli military forces reportedly hacked into a Hamas-run TV station tinyurl.com/8bnd9g.

On the other side of the conflict, hackers broke into and defaced websites belonging to the US army’s military district of Washington, Washington’s homeland security HQ and the NATO parliamentary assembly. At time of writing, a week after the attacks, the first two of those were offline again.

The pro-Palestinian side is rather less powerless in cyberspace than the real world and supporters in other countries are more able to act. US security consultant Bruce Jenkins reports tinyurl.com/8pbsjl that “hacker groups from Iran, Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey” are weighing in against Israel.

This kind of international involvement is a clue to the appeal of cyber-warfare during crises like the Gaza assault. Hacking is mostly ineffective at silencing the other side, except where it stops groups from, say, organising an emergency protest at short notice.

But, like sit-ins and street protests, it gives people around the world and in Gaza itself a sense that they’re not so powerless – that they’re part of something bigger which can win in the long run. So, ineffective maybe, but certainly not useless.

How Stop the War became a victim

THE Stop the War website www.stopwar.org.uk has had a torrid time of it since hackers broke in on January 9.

Stop the War techie Adie Cousins says that he’s been “run ragged” by the continual battle to keep the site online in the face of what he calls a “serious” hacking group.

Indeed, when I spoke to him on Saturday evening after the London Gaza protest, he confided that it was “the first few hours I’ve been away from it in a week.” The site crashed yet again the moment he turned his back on it.

Most of the problems, Cousins believes, are probably caused by denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or the patched-up site struggling to cope with a surge of popular interest in Gaza.

DoS, a common cyber-warfare technique which is illegal in this country, involves swamping a site with so much traffic that it can’t cope and collapses under the load. It’s often done by creating a “botnet” of tens or even hundreds of thousands of computers infected with malicious software that allow them to be controlled remotely.

But Stop the War’s troubles all stem from the January 9 hacking attack, in which the culprits not only changed data to stop the site from being displayed but also left malicious code on the server which is proving very difficult to eradicate.

It’s this, along with the manner in which the hackers probably broke in, which leads Cousins to believe that the attackers have “money or serious resources or incredibly talented people working for them.”

The site runs on Joomla (www.joomla.org), a piece of open-source software which Cousins reckons is very solid, with “no known security vulnerabilities” in the version Stop the War is using.

The vandals probably got in using a technique called SQL injection, which involves tricking a website into running malicious code when it’s expecting you to enter an email address or something similar (www.unixwiz.net/techtips/sql-injection.html.

It’s commonly used by hackers against the unwary but shouldn’t have been easy to do against the Stop the War site. Cousins says that “we have taken all the basic precautions to prevent that. Whatever mechanism they’ve used is not something that’s common.”

The attackers have, he says, managed to leave behind a bit of code which repeatedly changes the administrator password in an attempt to “deny us the possibility of updating the site,” which means he has to keep a constant eye on it and regularly change the password back.

Unfortunately, Stop the War almost certainly won’t be able to trace the attackers. Their identity isn’t known, only their IP address, which is easy to fake. Indeed, there’s no evidence that zionists are to blame except for the timing of the attack.

On the plus side, though, Cousins reports that several security experts have volunteered to help Stop the War track down the problem and take steps to prevent a repeat.

“Out of this, we will become much stronger online than we have been in the past. So it’s definitely backfired.”


Thanks to Robin for sending this.

Also see THIS post….


  1. Julia said,

    January 21, 2009 at 08:49

    So I think I said in another comment on this blog that Zionist propaganda groups like StandWithUS are all over my university campus right? Well, I found a video that demonstrates their latest activity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Njn6bWcB7Bk

  2. Rainbow Warrior said,

    January 21, 2009 at 09:37

    Seems they also have Cyber soldiers out there as well. They target sites that are pro Gaza. Very annoying I must say. This was done back in 2006.
    Some thing we all must watch for even now especially with the problems in Gaza. They are here I do believe.

    WHILE Israel fights Hezbollah with tanks and aircraft, its supporters are campaigning on the internet.

    As the war in Iraq started they too had them out there doing the very same thing. Recently I have come across quite a few.They are nasty, rude,belittling and very offensive. They will repeatedly attack anyone who says anything anti Israel. They will threaten and manipulate. They are verbally very abusive. Point of interest don’t take it personally. They are rather interesting however.It is just another form of the propaganda machine. I am sure a number of your readers will come in contact with a few of them sooner or latter. They use the same scripting as the ones from the US used. There abusive nature is geared to getting people to stop posting in forums etc. Hence the truth doesn’t get told. Never take anything they say personally. They are using a script. Just thought some might need a heads up. They will try to convince you that you are breaking the law by posting comments etc. That is pure BS however.
    I hope your Friend is OK. the US jailed reports as well. Seems both use the same tactics. They could be identical twins. Lets hope Obama knows enough or learns enough to stop some of the foolishness. Like Funding Israel with billions in Aid. Many Americans are furious over all the money being used to murder innocent people in Gaza. They will put pressure on him to stop the funding. Lets hope they succeed.

  3. January 21, 2009 at 19:31

    […] bookmarks tagged ineffective ZIONISM’S ‘NEW FRONTIER’: CYBERSPACE saved by 4 others     HoTB1ooD bookmarked on 01/21/09 | […]

  4. Heritage said,

    January 22, 2009 at 05:40

    Great post. thanks!

    Israel’s Immigrant Absorption Ministry is putting together an “army of bloggers” to represent Israel in “anti-Zionist blogs” in English, French, Spanish and German…..volunteers who send the Absorption Ministry their contact details by e-mail, at media@moia.gov.il, will be registered according to language, and then passed on to the Foreign Ministry’s media department, whose personnel will direct the volunteers to Web sites deemed “problematic.”

    Israel is being very open about this. I think Israeli anti-war/anti occupation supporters should be contacted to infiltrate this programme.


  5. Denis said,

    March 4, 2009 at 15:51

    So I think I said in another comment on this blog that Zionist propaganda groups like StandWithUS are all over my university campus right? Well, I found a video that demonstrates their latest activity

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