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Israeli-Arab Cyber Drama: Israeli Hacker Retaliates for Recent Credit Card Attack

“Cyberspace appears to be the new battlefield and our opponents will not be able to defeat us on this plane either.”

An Israeli hacker published the personal information of hundreds of Saudi residents Tuesday night, including credit card information, email addresses and telephone numbers.

This was apparently in retaliation for a similar cyber-attack last week targeting Israelis in which the credit card information of about 20,000 Israelis was posted online by an Arab hacker.

Ynet News reports on the latest development in the cyber-drama:

The list, posted by an Israeli who identified himself as "Omer Cohen," reveals the personal information – including email addresses, phone numbers and credit card details – mostly of Saudi citizens, but there are also a number of Syrian, Indian, Egyptian and US citizens on the list.

The Israeli hackers said they launched the cyber attack in retaliation for the publication of credit card details belonging to more than 20,000 Israelis by "OxOmar," a resident of Mexico who claimed to have operated from Saudi Arabia.

The group of hackers said it was not responsible for the publication of the details and that "Omer Cohen," who also refers to himself as "OxOmer," acted alone.

The Israeli hacker who leaked the details online told Ynet he was a soldier in the IDF's Intelligence Corps and that he does not anticipate a cyber war between Israeli and Arab hackers.

“Omer Cohen’s” claim to work for Israeli military intelligence could not be verified by The Blaze and apparently has not been verified by other news outlets.

He explained in an interview to Ynet that "Dozens of Israeli websites are attacked every day," adding that he was sorry if he hurt innocent people and that his goal was simply to “create deterrence.”

It all began last week when a hacker identifying himself as Saudi published the credit card information of about 20,000 Israelis obtained from a sporting goods website.

In an email exchange with Ynet, the hacker who calls himself “0xOmar” said he attacked Israel over its conflict with the Palestinians:

The alleged Riyadh resident said his actions were meant "to harm Israel for now financially and socially, by creating long queues and crisis and panic."

The Bank of Israel said the holders of the breached credit cards would not be responsible for any fraudulent purchases using the leaked numbers. There were also no reports of “queues,” “crisis” or “panic.”

Last Friday, an Israeli blogger, Amir Fedida, claimed he cracked the case. Quoting Israel’s Channel 10 newscast, the Jerusalem Post wrote:

According to Fedida, contrary to wide-spread belief that the hacker is Saudi, his research actually reveals that the hacker is Omar Habib, a youth of UAE origin, who lives in Mexico.

According to the report, Fedida claimed in his blog that Habib made many mistakes, allowing him to trace him - the biggest mistake being that he communicated with Israeli media by email, congratulating himself on his "achievements." Fedida also found from his investigation that the hacker is a pro-Palestinian whose interests include hacking.

The hacker, going by the username  "0xOmar" from "group-xp", disseminated a third file Friday, containing Trojan horse malware.

Omar’s message, posted on the 'uncensored text hosting' website Pastebin, contained numerous anti-Israel and anti-Semitic references. The hacker repeatedly referred to the "Zionist lobby" and the "Jewish lobby" throughout the post.

After the initial publication of credit card numbers, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon compared the act to terrorism and vowed to respond.

Such cyber-attacks are "a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such", Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said during a speech at a community center.

"Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action," he said, without elaborating.

Those comments apparently drew the ire of hackers who on Tuesday targeted Ayalon’s website. According to Arutz 7, hackers “put a 30-minute dent in the site’s defenses” but didn’t succeed in disabling the site.

Ayalon, an active user of social media including Facebook and Twitter who has posted several viral videos on YouTube said in a statement, “Cyberspace appears to be the new battlefield and our opponents will not be able to defeat us on this plane either.”

Israeli officials said the stolen data was one of the worst acts of commercial cyber sabotage Israel has faced. Though it doesn’t appear there was lasting damage, the incident has sounded an alarm. Meir Sheetrit, chairman of the Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee, held a special hearing Monday where he warned a cyber-attack could, without tanks or planes, “bring about the collapse of a country, and no military can come to the rescue. It is vital that basic steps are initiated to ensure the continuity of computing systems.”

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