Information Warfare: April 18, 2002


The fighting between Israelis and Palestinians has involved more than guns, bombs and press releases. There has also been active battle over the Internet. In the last three years, Israeli web sites (at least those using the suffix .il) have suffered 42 percent of the 1,295 web site defacements in the Middle East. In the first half of April, Israel suffered over 60 percent of the Middle Eastern web site defacements. The greatest source of Internet attacks on Israel appear to come from Egypt and Pakistan. This makes sense, for although Israel is by far the largest Internet presence in the region (with 2.2 million Internet connections, that's users and web sites), Egypt and Pakistan come in a distant second and third. Israel is also something of an Internet superpower, since Israeli programmers have produced a lot of Internet software. Arab hackers have made threats to make serious attacks on Israel's Internet infrastructure, but so far no one has been able to deliver on this. The reason probably has to do with the large amount of Internet security software that is developed in Israel. With an economy that is one of the most heavily dependent on the Internet, Israel is that much more vulnerable to hackers. The greatest danger here may come from thousands of liberal minded European and American software professionals who have been increasingly anti-Israel (or pro-Palestinian, take your pick.) If some of this talent can be mobilized and organized to make a major cyber attack on Israel, the damage might be more serious than defaced web pages.


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