Hackers Wreak Havoc on Palestinian Internet Services

Hackers reportedly shut down Internet service in Palestine Tuesday.

Service was apparently completely shut down in Gaza and partially shut down in the West Bank after hackers unleashed malware on the main ISP in Palestine, Paltel.

The Palestinians have alleged that a nation-state could be behind the attacks. They have apparently tied the hacks to their admission on Monday as a member to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Palestine reportedly alleged that the attacks originated from IP servers in Germany, Slovenia and China, although it stated that this doesn’t mean those nation-states are behind the attacks.

Palestinian officials did not respond to emailed requests for comment by press time, possibly due to the service outages.

ISPs in the Middle East

The hack was a focused, organized attack that was put together by a nation-state, Palestinian Telecommunications Minister Mashour Abu Daqqa told reporters.

In addition to disrupting Internet communications, the attack prevented Palestinians from accessing foreign websites, Abu Daqqa added.

Palestinian authorities reportedly said they’ll seek the help of the governments of countries from which the attacks were actually launched.

American organizations involved in trying to bring peace to the Middle East were apparently unaware of the attacks.

Nation-State Hate

UNESCO’s decision on Monday to admit Palestine to full membership was met with criticism from the United States and Israel.

The U.S. announced it won’t pay the $60 million that’s its due for this year and added that it will suspend all future funding.

That will cost UNESCO one fifth of its funding.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney reportedly called UNESCO’s decision premature and announced that it undermines the international community’s efforts toward a comprehensive Middle East peace plan.

Israel has condemned UNESCO’s action and is reportedly expediting the construction of about 2,000 houses in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It’s also reportedly temporarily shutting off the transfer of millions of dollars in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian government.

We the People

Despite the Palestinian government’s allegations, it’s possible that the attacks on that nation’s Internet communications may have been launched by independent cybervigilantes rather than a nation-state.

“Typically, hacker groups want to make a statement, and they’re much more likely to attack Web pages, go after infrastructure, and do things that are very visible,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“Governments don’t like to be identified as doing things like this as, for one, it can quickly escalate and two, not every politician may agree, and you’ll quickly find out who’s in power when that happens,” Enderle continued.

The Punishers Online

The idea of cyber-vigilantes attacking the object of their anger en masse is not new. The hacker communities Anonymous and LulzSec, for example, have vented their collective spleen on Sony, the FBI, police forces and the defense industry at various times, penetrating their networks, stealing information and publishing it online.

That led to the rise of a counter-group, Web Ninjas, which focuses on exposing members of Anonymous and LulzSec.

However, the emergence of Web Ninjas has security expert Charles Dodd worried.

“You don’t want to start cyberwars over critical infrastructure because people will begin testing their testosterone online and that could be deadly,” Dodd told TechNewsWorld in a previous interview.

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