Computer hackers disrupted the websites of Israel's stock exchange and the national airline El Al, the latest attacks in what Israeli officials describe as “cyber-terrorism.”
The cyber attacks began 10 days ago when a hacker claiming to be from Saudi Arabia posted the numbers and personal details of more than 20,000 Israeli credit card holders online. He said the aim is to harm Israel and he called on fellow hackers to follow suit.
Yoni Shemesh, the head computer technician at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, said the facility was on high alert for cyber attacks because of perceived threats from Arab and pro-Palestinian hackers.
Shemesh told Israel Radio that the website which provides data online was disrupted, but that the hackers were not able to penetrate the stock exchange itself and trading was not affected.
Eventhough Israel is one of the most advanced high-tech countries in the world, the attacks have exposed a vulnerability to cyber-warfare. Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz says it is a dangerous situation and Israel is taking steps to deal with it.
“Everyone has to prepare for such attacks, and indeed the State of Israel has established a special cyber organization to prepare for such things,” he said.
Israel fears that hackers could target strategic sites such as water, telephone and electricity facilities or the international airport, posing a serious threat to national security.