News / Science & Technology

Cyber Firm: Israeli Defense Computer Hacked by Tainted Email

TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Hackers broke into an Israeli defense ministry computer via an email attachment tainted with malicious software that looked like it had been sent by the country's Shin Bet secret security service, an Israeli cyber security firm said on Sunday.
      
Aviv Raff, chief technology officer at Seculert, said the hackers earlier this month temporarily took over 15 computers, one of which belonged to Israel's Civil Administration, the body that monitors Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territory.
 
Raff told Reuters that Palestinians were suspected to be behind the cyber attack, citing similarities to a cyber assault on Israeli computers waged more than a year ago from a server in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
 
While the latest attack was conducted from a server in the United States, experts noticed writing and composition similarities with the earlier attack, he said.
 
Israeli officials declined to comment on Raff's findings. “We are not commenting on it, we don't respond to such reports,” said one of the officials, Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Civil Administration.
 
There was no immediate Palestinian comment on the report.
 
Securlet had not determined what the hackers did after the initial infection with “Xtreme RAT” software, Raff said. “All we know is at least one computer at the Civil Administration was in control of the attackers; what they did we don't know,” he said.
 
The Civil Administration is a unit of Israel's defense ministry that oversees the passage of goods between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in a 1967 war and which Palestinians want as part of a separate state.
 
The administration also issues entry permits to Palestinians who work in Israel.
 
Defense contractors also hacked?
 
Raff declined to identify the other 14 computers targeted by the hackers. An Israeli source who spoke on condition of anonymity said these included companies involved in supplying Israeli defense infrastructure.
 
Based on Raff's analysis, the 15 computers were in the hackers' grip for at least several days after the Jan. 15 dispatch of the email, which included an attachment about ex-Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who had just died.
 
Hacking activity has surged in the Middle East over the past three years as both governments and activist groups have targeted the military, other state agencies, critical infrastructure, businesses as well as dissidents and criminal groups in order to gain information about their operations and also disrupt them.
 
The email that burrowed into the Israeli defense ministry computer looked like it had been sent from the Shin Bet security service, Raff said.
 
Raff's firm was able to “sinkhole” the operation, tricking the Xtreme RAT software into communicating with servers that Seculert controlled in order to figure out which computers were infected and to deactivate the attack.
 
Xtreme RAT is a remote access trojan, which gives hackers complete control of an infected machine. They can steal information, load additional malicious software onto the network or use the compromised computer as a beachhead from which to conduct reconnaissance and attempt to gain deeper access into the network, Raff said.
 
Word of the cyber attack came a day before a three-day Israeli cybertech conference being held in Jerusalem, and almost immediately after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plugged Israeli technological advances at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
      
Raff denied there was any irony in the timing of his warning so soon after Netanyahu's remarks. “Unfortunately there is no such thing as 100 percent safety either when it comes to physical risks or information security,” he said.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid