Syria, Egypt crises spur escalation of ME cyber attacks
McAfee uses launch of Dubai-based cyber vanguard to highlight spread of hacktivism
The civil conflicts in Syria and Egypt have led to an escalation in cyber attacks in the Middle East, according to Intel’s security specialist arm, McAfee.
"It's mostly bringing down websites and defacing them with political messages - there has been a huge increase in cyber attacks in the Middle East," Christiaan Beek, McAfee director for incident response forensics in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), told Reuters.
Dubai-based Beek, speaking at yesterday’s launch of a Dubai-based cyber incident response centre, attributed the inflated hacktivism to Syria’s civil war and Egypt’s political crisis and named global cyber cabal Anonymous as one group responsible.
McAfee estimated that half of Gulf cyber incursions this year were politically motivated, comparing this figure with the global average for hacktivism of around a quarter.
"It's difficult for people to protest in the street in the Middle East and so defacing websites and denial of service [DoS] attacks are a way to protest instead," said Beek.
DoS and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks bring down Web servers by inundating them with more resource requests than they can handle. The method is popular among political hackers, as is the defacement of a homepage to send political messages.
Beek also referred to the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a group that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this week the SEA defaced an online recruiting site for the US Marine Corps by appealing to Marines to refuse to fight in any US-planned engagement.
In the past the SEA has defaced the New York Times website and hijacked the paper’s Twitter account. It is also thought to have targeted other websites within the Middle East.