Sites in UAE, Saudi fend off Israel cyber-attacks

Forensics’ Foundstone Services EMEA says clients have reported attempted hacks

Tags: Cyber crimeHackingMcAfee IncorporationSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates
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Sites in UAE, Saudi fend off Israel cyber-attacks Christiaan Beek, Principal Architect IR & Forensics’ Foundstone Services EMEA says that the hacker group calling itself the IDF-Team, Israeli Defence Force, has so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to hack targets in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  January 18, 2012

Several of the sites in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, mentioned as targets by the hacker group calling itself the IDF-Team, Israeli Defence Force, have been the targets of so-far unsuccessful attacks, Christiaan Beek, principal architect IR & Forensics' McAfee Foundstone Services EMEA told ITP.net.

"What I have heard from some customers around in the area is that they are being attacked, so they are definitely trying to go for information. We are already being called by customers to help them out," he said.

"I know that in Abu Dhabi they have a very good CERT and I definitely think they will be monitoring and assisting the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange."

The list of targets include sites of banks, stock exchanges, Dubai government sites, and Saudi Airlines, such as www.arabbank.ae, www.arabbank.com, www.sabb.com, www.adx.ae, www.eida.gov.ae, www.dubai.ae www.saudiairlines.com and www.airport.ae.

The attacks on websites in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and those in Israel have so far not been very sophisticated. Beek said that the success of the attacks in Israel was primarily down to poor website security.

"One of the Israeli websites actually stored data in such a way that passwords and credit card details could be found via a Google query and downloaded," he said.

However, he added that the Israeli Defence Force hacking group has a pretty good track record of effective hacks and the group may be able to launch more successful attacks on target websites.

"I think they are able to do the attacks, but it depends on what tools and techniques they are using to put down a website - there are some tools around which can bring a website to its knees. I think the easiest way to disrupt services is of course a denial of service attack, sending a lot of packages to a website," said Beek.

The cyber attacks and counter-attacks between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were started by an alleged Saudi hacker; however, Beek said that when Forensics' Foundstone Services EMEA traced the hacker via various intelligence sources, it was actually someone based in Dubai, and not a resident of Saudi Arabia.

"That is the difficult part in these kinds of things. If you have seen Anonymous, they are attacking from everywhere because they are all spread all around the world and there are some group experts at the top of the organisation, but many wannabe's or low-skilled hackers who just want to try, and they call themselves Anonymous and I think that is pretty dangerous," said Beek.

Beek has predicted that hacking will increase in the Middle East as there are more and more hackers writing tools and trying to improve.

"More hack attempts to simple targets will happen, we will see some growth from that area, we all know about the Russian and Chinese [expertise]  and Brazil is also a very emerging country [for] hackers, and I think the Middle East is also growing as well," said Beek.

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