-Caveat Lector-

hacker holy wars
by Cletus Nelson ([EMAIL PROTECTED]) - December 19, 2000

QuickFire. EvilPing. WinSmurf. Melissa. CIH. Loveletter.
These are the primary weapons of war in a brewing conflict that is
transforming the Internet into an electronic battleground. As hostilities
escalate in the Middle East, pro-Israeli activists are fighting a rear-guard
action against a pan-Arab confederation of hackers determined to unleash an
"e-jihad" against the Jewish homeland.
The sheer intensity of the Muslim assault is staggering. According to
idefense, a security firm tracking the unfolding cyber-battle, some 90
security breaches are being attributed to Islamic hackers. These attacks
include "denial of service attacks, attempts to gain root access, system
penetrations, defacements and a variety of other attacks" (press release,
November 21st, 2000). These high-profile hits include Web sites for the
Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Bank of Israel, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange,
the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and others.

When a small cadre of Israeli loyalists set up a Web site, in early October
2000, to conduct a pre-emptive propaganda strike against the Web pages of
Hizbollah and other pro-Palestinian groups, they ignited a cyber-intifada.

After an effective bombardment shut down six sites including Hamas.org, a
furious Arab counterattack sent several Israeli government sites offline.
Two months later, the campaign reached global proportions, with supporters
aligned on both sides mounting attacks from Israel, Palestine, Egypt,
Brazil, the U.K., the U.S. and other locales.

Spearheading the pro-Palestinian offensive are opposition groups such as
Gforce Pakistan, Xegypt, and Unity. The latter, which enjoy ties with the
hard line Hizbollah faction, are vowing to escalate their harassment of
Israeli sites by launching a multifaceted "cyberjihad" designed to paralyze
the Jewish state's internal operations and online economy by repeatedly
targeting government, telecommunications and e-commerce sites.

Stepping into the breach to defend their beloved homeland are the Internet
Israeli Underground (IIU) which stands "united to protect Israel on the
Internet against any kind of attack from vicious hacking groups." The
nationalistic hackers will certainly face a formidable opposition. Web sites
are going up across the net in order to provide easily accessible attack
tools to the hard-charging Islamic forces. EvilPing, which launches a "ping
of death" attack capable of quickly shutting down a system and "QuickFire,"
capable of sending 32,000 e-mails to a selected target are but two examples
of the devastating arsenal wielded by Palestine sympathizers.

IIU spokesmen told Wired magazine reporter Carmen Gentile that the
unrelenting attacks have become so prevalent, they may have caused an 8%
drop in the Israeli Stock Exchange.

Amidst the chaos of this brewing conflict, Western observers fear that
America will soon become embroiled in this volatile dispute. When the Web
site for New Jersey-based Lucent Technology came under attack, in November
2000, allegedly in retaliation for the security firm's business dealings
Israel, these fears came close to being realized. Ben Venzke, Director of
Intelligence Production for idefense was quick to point out the significance
of this portentous development.

"There could be other organizations hit here in the US but this is the first
US corporation named directly on target lists being circulated by
pro-Palestinian hacker groups I've seen so far," he remarked to Erica
Luening of CNET (November 2nd, 2000). This could be disastrous in light of a
disconcerting Computer World article which deems the nation's security
precautions are woefully "inadequate" (November 13th, 2000).

As security experts prepare for a wave of possible attacks, we may be
glimpsing the future of postmodern warfare. Perhaps entire battles will be
decided within the limitless realm of cyberspace with skilled hackers
jamming communications, shutting down power grids and freezing bank
accounts. Although the Internet is frequently lauded as a unifying medium
capable of bringing us closer together, this online religious war
exemplifies its malign potential.

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