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article imageIsrael's computers crash after hacker group vows retaliation

By Bradley Axmith     Nov 7, 2011 in World
Tel Aviv - Israel suffered the biggest computer systems crash in its history Sunday, paralyzing government websites and sabotaging online payments. The cyber activist group Anonymous claimed responsibility, though Tel Aviv insists a technical error is to blame.
The website for Israeli security agencies were functioning again Monday following a day of paralysis attributed to the internet activitists known as Anonymous. The denial of service attack against Israel’s IT servers was in direct retaliation for the interception of a two vessels seeking to break the blockade of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid, according to Ha'aretz, an Israeli daily.
“Justifying war, murder, illegal interception, and pirate-like activities under an illegal cover of defense will not go unnoticed by us or the people of the world,” declared the group through a video letter posted to Youtube.
Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet, its intelligence agency, the Mossad along with the websites for the ministries of Construction and Housing, Interior and Health, and Lands Administration were all disabled Sunday a short while after Anonymous proclaimed its intent.
“If you continue blocking humanitarian vessels to Gaza or repeat the dreadful actions of May 31st, 2010 against any Gaza Freedom Flotillas then you will leave us no choice but to strike back. Again and again, until you stop,” the statement said.
On Friday a Canadian ship carrying 15 passengers and an Irish vessel with 12 on-board were intercepted and seized by the Israeli navy as it approached Israeli waters in an attempt to break the blockade of Gaza imposed by Tel Aviv since June 2006, ostensibly to prevent the transfer of weapons to terrorists in the Palestinian-controlled enclave.
"The activists did not heed the Navy's calls and refused to act according to the legal possibilities that stand before them. The vessels continue to make their way towards the blockade area," Ynet News reported the IDF as saying Friday.
Nine Turkish nationals were killed during a similar incident in May last year, sparking a diplomatic row between Ankara and Tel Aviv and eliciting the ire of international activists who oppose Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and any prospect for peace.
Anonymous consists of thousands of incognito cyber activists, or hacktivists, that use their hacking skills in both coordinated and uncoordinated attacks against governments and private entities judged by any of the anarchic members to be in breech of the principles of freedom of information for which the internet represents.
Some groups allegedly belonging to Anonymous have gone beyond the politically motivated profile, hacking into large corporations and stealing confidential information to demonstrate their prowess and reveal the companies’ susceptibility.
In July 2010 the FBI arrested more than a dozen hackers, members of the LulzSec group implicated in attacks against Sony Corporation, causing the Playstation servers to be shut down for a week.
In perhaps the most high-profile case, last year Anonymous targeted the US Government, banks and credit agencies that cooperated in shutting down Wikileaks, a site dedicated to distributing secrets for the sake of strengthening transparency. They employed distributed denial of service attacks, or DDoS, designed to overload a site with traffic causing paralysis.
Currently, individuals under the Anonymous umbrella have focused on the Zetas cartel in Mexico, after a series of very public attacks against journalists reporting on organized crime.
But Los Zetas declared war against Anonymous employing their own hackers to counterattack and identify the hacktivists, promising to visit them with violent death. This prompted some members to retract their intent to disrupt and hassle the Mexican cartel.
It remains to be seen whether Anonymous or anyone who could be associated with them was in fact responsible for the system crash yesterday.
What is clear is that Anonymous is not an organization, but a convergence in cyberspace of a coalition of willing participants that cannot be underestimated.
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