Political Tension in Spain Leads to Cyber-Attacks against Spanish Websites

The political tension after the Catalonia referendum on October 1, 2017, has influenced the virtual arena as well, resulting in cyber-attacks against Spanish websites carried out by hacktivists leaking information about high profile targets and claiming responsibility for shutting down websites. These threat actors use various anti-Spain hashtags that indicate the different cyber campaigns: #OpEspana, #OpCatalonia, #OpCatalonya and #OpSaveCatalonia. Continue reading “Political Tension in Spain Leads to Cyber-Attacks against Spanish Websites”

#OpIcarus Cyber Campaign – Round 5

Hacktivists recently launched the fifth phase of the #OpIcarus cyber campaign (also dubbed #OpSacred) against the financial sector around the world. This campaign was first launched in February 2016, and as in previous phases, the official target list contains mainly websites of central banks around the world. In addition, the initiators share links to download known DDoS tools, such as Continue reading “#OpIcarus Cyber Campaign – Round 5”

Updates about the Upcoming #OpIsrael Campaign

The number of participants in the event pages of the #OpIsrael campaign, as of the first week of April 2017, is approximately 600 Facebook users – a very low number of supporters compared to the same period in previous campaigns. In general, the response on social networks to the #OpIsrael campaign over the years since 2013 is constantly declining. Continue reading “Updates about the Upcoming #OpIsrael Campaign”

Initial Preparations for #OpIsrael 2017

During the past week, we detected indications for initial preparations for the upcoming #OpIsrael campaign scheduled for April 7, 2017. SenseCy identified several event pages on Facebook that were opened explicitly to organize cyber-attacks. The number of participants in all the event pages that we found is relatively low (approximately 160 Facebook users). Continue reading “Initial Preparations for #OpIsrael 2017”

#OpClosedMedia: Hacktivists Threaten to Target the Media Sector on September 22, 2016

Hacktivists are threatening to launch #OpClosedMedia, a month-long cyber campaign against websites and platforms of “mainstream media,” on September 22, 2016, for failing to inform the public about the real news.

The campaign’s official target list includes the websites of the BBC, The Daily Mail, The Independent, Reuters, Channel One (Russia) and others.

opclosedmedia
#OpClosedMedia – September 22, 2016

Thus far, participants have claimed responsibility for hacking several websites related to the media sector from around the world, but they also claimed to have hacked other websites with a loose connection to this sector.

Calls to launch attacks against media outlets on September 22, 2016
Calls to launch attacks against media outlets on September 22, 2016

This is not the first time that the media sector has been targeted by hacktivists. In June 2016, the Ghost Squad Hackers group launched the #OpSilence campaign against prominent news agencies, such as Fox News and CNN, protesting against what they called the “silence and lies” regarding the Palestinian situation. However, it seems that the Ghost Squad Hackers are not involved in this campaign.

In conclusion, popular news platforms and the media sector in general are targeted by hacktivists who wish to shut them down. Only time will tell if they will succeed or not.

#OpSafePharma 3.0: Italian Hacktivists Attack the Healthcare Sector

The #OpSafePharma is a hacktivist campaign targeting the Italian healthcare and pharma industries, protesting their treatment of ADHD. Hacktivists affiliated with Anonymous Italia perform DDoS attacks and leak information stolen from databases of websites related to the abovementioned sectors. The campaign, which started in March 2016, was relaunched at the beginning of June following a decrease in the number of attacks against Italian targets in the past month.

On August 21, 2016, Anonymous Italia and its affiliated hacktivist collective AntiSec-Italia, relaunched the campaign, this time dubbed #OperationSafePharma, targeting four different healthcare-related Italian institutions with website defacement attacks and substantial data leakages. The outcomes of the operation, namely the screenshots of the defaced websites and the addresses of the downloadable data leakages, uploaded on dedicated file sharing platforms, were announced on the social media outlets of AntiSec-Italia, specifically on their Facebook page and Twitter account.

AntiSec-Italia published the outcomes of the operation on its Facebook page
AntiSec-Italia published the outcomes of the operation on its Facebook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Data Leakage

The hacktivists leaked approximately 2.5 GB of data, stolen from the databases of two prominent Italian healthcare institutions, and provided links to file-sharing platforms where they uploaded the dumps.

We acquired the leaked databases and, upon verification, we assess that they mostly contain internal communications, as well as a great volume of personal data relating to the in-house personnel of the two healthcare institutions, mainly CVs of the physicians and administrative executives working in the facilities. We did not find any indications that medical records of patients treated in these healthcare facilities were disclosed or compromised during the data leakage. Notably, the most recent documents we detected within the stolen files are dated August 5, 2016.

A partial list of the folders included in one of the leaked databases.
A partial list of the folders included in one of the leaked databases.
Sample of leaked data, notably personal documents of a patient who applied to be treated by a different physician
Sample of leaked data, notably personal documents of a patient who applied to be treated by a different physician

Website Defacements

The group defaced four distinct websites, explaining in a public statement – recycled from previous operations – the rationale underpinning the protest.

Screenshots of the defacements related to two of the affected Italian medical facilities
Screenshots of the defacements related to two of the affected Italian medical facilities

Assessment

Our assessment is that this latest iteration of #OperationSafePharma originates more from a one-time opportunity window that the hacktivist group AntiSec-Italia spotted in vulnerable websites associated with Italian medical centers and hospitals, than a concerted effort by multiple Anonymous-affiliated collectives to launch a massive hacktivist campaign against the Italian healthcare sector as a whole. We base this assumption on the analysis conducted using our automated SMA (Social Media Analytics) toolset, which indicated a spike in the activity of the attackers.

Nonetheless, the achievements of the operation, in particular the exfiltration of sensitive databases belonging to prominent Italian healthcare institutions, display noteworthy technical capabilities by the initiators of the offensive.

As yet, we have not identified any preparations for future hacktivist campaigns against the Italian healthcare or financial sector, nonetheless we continue to monitor Italian hacktivist threat actors on a daily basis.

#OpIcarus – a War against the Global Financial Sector

During May 2016, we witnessed the second phase of the #OpIcarus cyber campaign against banks around the world, launched by the Anonymous collective in February 2016. The participants carried out DDoS attacks against bank websites in various countries on a daily basis. Several cyber-attacks succeeded in shutting down the websites of central banks in Greece, Cyprus and other countries.

Platforms

The initiators created two Facebook event pages and opened an IRC channel to coordinate their cyber-attacks. Approximately 2,000 participants joined the #OpIcarus event pages, but many more hacktivists expressed their support of this campaign via their social media accounts. With regard to the dedicated IRC channel, it appears not to have been as active as the campaign platforms in Facebook and Twitter.

From the #OpIcarus IRC Channel

Attacks and Tools

According to news reports, #OpIcarus participants shut down bank websites around the world on a daily basis. We cannot confirm that all of the mentioned banks websites were actually offline, due to the participant DDoS attacks, but we wish to point out several incidents that caught our attention.

A member of the Ghost Squad Hackers group dubbed s1ege took responsibly for shutting down the email server of the Bank of England. The bank did respond to this attack, but according to news reports, the bank’s mail server was offline on May 13, 2016.

Member of Ghost Squad Hackers claimed they shut down the mail server of the Bank of England
Member of Ghost Squad Hackers claimed they shut down the mail server of the Bank of England

In addition, according to a single news report shared on various Facebook accounts, Chase Bank ATMs stopped working on May 14, 2016, as a result of the Anonymous collective cyber activity. The Twitter account of Chase Bank’s technical support tweeted that their ATMs did not accept any deposits on this day, but they did not mention what had caused the problem. Meanwhile, the Ghost Squad Hackers group tweeted that the incident was part of the #OpIcarus campaign.

Chase Bank's technical support tweeted about a problem with their ATMs
Chase Bank’s technical support tweeted about a problem with their ATMs
Ghost Squad Hackers claim that Chase ATMs were hacked during #OpIcarus
Ghost Squad Hackers claimed that Chase ATMs were hacked during #OpIcarus

Additionally, s1ege claimed on May 18, 2016, that they had shut down a website related to the NYSE. The NYSE Twitter account tweeted that they had experienced a technical issue in one of their trading units. They did not mention what had caused the problem. Therefore, it is unclear if there is any connection to the Ghost Squad Hackers group, aside from the latter’s claim of responsibility.

A member of Ghost Squad Hackers claimed they hacked a website related to the NYSE
The NYSE announced that they had a technical issue that affected their daily activity
The NYSE announced that they had a technical issue that affected their daily activity

With regard to the attack tools, the participants used a variety of DDoS, some of which were simple online tools with no sophisticated DDoS abilities. However, there were indications that they used DDoS-as-a-Service (DaaS) platforms, such as Booters/Stressers that require payment and registration. In addition, the New World Hackers (NWH) team that took responsibility for shutting down the HSBC Bank website on January 29, 2016, supported the #OpIcarus campaign.

A call to use Booters on an #OpIcarus event page
A call to use Booters on an #OpIcarus event page

This campaign gained high popularity among hacktivists from all over the world who were motivated to DDoS bank websites protesting corruption and other issues. It is possible that the initiators will decide to engage an additional phase of this campaign, since one of them claimed in an interview that “Operation Icarus will continue as long as there are corrupt and greedy banks out there.”

#OpIsrael 2016 – Summary

This year, #OpIsrael hacktivists focused on defacing private websites, carrying out DDoS attacks and leaking databases. Hundreds of private Israeli websites were defaced, mostly by Fallaga and AnonGhost members. Various databases containing Israeli email addresses and credit cards were leaked, but the majority were recycled from previous campaigns.

The hacktivists attacks commenced on April 5, 2016, two days before the campaign was launched, with a massive DDoS attack against an Israeli company that provides cloud services. The fact that no one took responsibility for the attack, alongside the massive DDoS power invested, may indicate that threat actors with advanced technical abilities were responsible.

On April 7, 2016, approximately 2,650 Facebook users expressed their desire to participate in the campaign via anti-Israel Facebook event pages. There are several possible reasons for the low number of participants (compared for example to the 5,200 participants in #OpIsrael 2015). One reason might be disappointment in last year’s lack of significant achievements. Another reason could be the devotion of attention to other topics, such as the cyber campaign against the Islamic State (IS), in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels. Moreover, it is possible that anti-Israel hacktivists have abandoned social media networks for other platforms, such as IRC and Telegram.

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Number of participants in the #OpIsrael campaign since 2014

During the campaign, we detected many indications of the use of common DDoS tools, such as HOIC, and simple DDoS web platforms that do not require any prior technical knowledge in order to operate them. Most of the DDoS attacks were directed against Israeli government and financial websites. Hacktivists claimed they managed to take down two Israeli bank websites. While this could be true, the websites were up and operational again within a short time. In addition, there were no indications of the use of RATs or ransomware against Israeli targets.

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Using common DDoS tools against an Israeli website

As mentioned previously, most of the leaked databases were recycled from previous campaigns. However, we noticed that almost all of the new leaked databases were stolen from the same source – an Israeli company that develop websites. Notably, during the 2014 #OpIsrael campaign, this company website appeared on a list of hacked websites.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the leakage of these databases, which raises many questions, since anti-Israel hacktivists typically publish their achievements on social media networks to promote the success of the campaign. Moreover, almost all of these databases were first leaked in the Darknet, but anti-Israel hacktivists do not use this platform at all. In addition, all of the data leakages were allegedly leaked by a hacker dubbed #IndoGhost, but there are no indications to suggest that this entity was involved in the #OpIsrael campaign or any other anti-Israel activity.

Finally, we detected several attempts to organize another anti-Israel campaign for May 7, 2016. As an example, we identified a post calling to hack Israeli government websites on this date. We estimate that these attempts will not succeed in organizing another anti-Israel cyber campaign.

AnonGhost VS Uncle Sam (#OpUSA – May 7, 2015)

Hacking group AnonGhost has published an official video on #OpUSA, its upcoming cyber campaign against the United States. The video, addressed to the U.S. government, does not mention the date of the campaign or the list of targets, but based on the group’s 2013 #OpUSA campaign, it appears that it is set to take place on May 7. The official video’s YouTube page mentions prominent AnonGhost members Mauritania Attacker, An0nx0xtn, DarkCoder, Donnazmi, and Hussein Haxor, all of whom promote the group’s agenda in social networks.

AnonGhost post about #OpUSA
AnonGhost post about #OpUSA

On May 7, 2013, AnonGhost, along with other groups such as the Tunisian Hackers, threatened to hack American government and financial websites. While they were highly motivated, they failed to achieve much other than to deface several websites and leak emails and personal information. A possible reason for their limited success is that several days before the campaign, hackers speculated on social media that #OpUSA was actually a trap set by the federal government in order to expose and arrest the participants.

Partial list of #OpUSA targets in 2013
Partial list of #OpUSA targets in 2013

One of the groups that participated in 2013, N4m3le55 Cr3w, published a long list of recommended DDoS tools at that time, most of which are common hacking tools that are likely to be used in the current campaign as well.

  • HOIC
  • LOIC
  • Slowloris
  • ByteDos
  • TorsHammer, a Python-based DDoS tool created by the group called An0nSec.
  • SYN Flood DOS, a DDoS tool that operates with NMAP and conducts a SYN Flood attack.