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.
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.
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.
Social networks are well-known tools used by activists to mobilize the masses. As witnessed during the Arab Spring and in recent incidents in Hong Kong, government opposition groups can organize dissatisfied citizens by means of a massive campaign. More closed countries, such as North Korea or China try to limit access by their citizens to international social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. We have noticed an increasing tendency toward anti-government campaigns in Asian countries and the cyber arena plays an important role in this process. We have identified this kind of activity in China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and North Korea. Local cyber hacktivist groups are calling for people to unite against infringements on freedom by violating privacy rights. Hacktivists are organizing anti-government groups and events on popular social media platforms and are posting tutorials on how to circumvent the blocking of certain websites and forums in countries where such Internet activity is forbidden. Furthermore, the groups are posting provocative materials and anti-government appeals in local Asian languages, alongside to English. Thus, we can see an attempt to recruit support from non-state activists for a national struggle.
These groups are eager to reach a large number of supporters, and not only for political and psychological purposes. Together with publishing tutorials for “safe browsing” in the Internet for large masses of people the groups translate popular cyber tools for mass attacks and they disseminate instructional manuals translated into local languages on how to use these tools.
One example of exactly such an organization is Anonymous Japan – an anti-government hacking group. The group develops and uses DDoS tools and is also involved in spam activity. Furthermore, members of the group develop their own tools and publish them on Facebook for wider audiences.
Amongst the large-scale campaigns launched by this organization, you can find #OpLeakageJp – an operation tracking radiation pollution in Japan.
In addition to internal struggles, hacktivist groups are operating against targets in the area. One such example is operations by hacktivism groups personifying themselves with North Korean insignia and targeting sources in South Korea. Examples of such cyber campaigns are #Opsouthkoreatarget and #OpNorthKorea.
In China, we found an example of the #OpChinaCW campaign. A cyber campaign hosted by Anonymous was launched on November 2, 2014 against Chinese government servers and websites. The campaign was organized on a Facebook event page and was further spread on Twitter.
Hacktivists have also published cyber tools for this campaign. See below an example of a DDoS tool sold on Facebook for only US$10.
As previously mentioned, cyber activity in the Asia region is directed not only against enemy states, but also against the “internal enemy” – the government. Hacktivism groups not only organize such campaigns on underground platforms, but they also make wide use of open popular social networks to recruit supporters. Moreover, they also develop their own cyber tools.
Following the escalation between Israel and the Hamas regime in Gaza, Muslim hacktivists have announced the launch of several cyber campaigns against Israeli targets.
Unlike the real Middle-East, where Muslims from different factions fight each other, when it comes to assaulting Israel they are happy to join forces. While several groups have launched campaigns to show their solidarity with the Palestinians, the most prominent are AnonGhost with #OpSaveGazaand Anonymous Arabe that launched #Intifada_3, alongside Moroccan Tigers Team.
#OpSaveGazais scheduled to peak on July 11, but attacks have already commenced against government, financial and Telcos, and is combining hackers from Malaysia in the East to Tunisia in the West.
#intifada_3 is lead by Anonymous Arabe and Moroccan Tigers Team, and is promising to launch daily attacks against an assortment of sites with defacement and DDoS attacks.
We expect the attack attempts to intensify in line with the progress of the armed conflict.
The #OpIsrael Birthday campaign took place as scheduled on April 7 and involved thousands of participants from all over the Muslim world, from Indonesia in the East to Morocco in the West. The following presentation by Gilad Zahavi, SenseCy Intelligence Director, summarizes the campaign and offers insights into the participants characteristics and tactics, and predictions for future campaigns.
In the next week we are going to see a major hacktivist operation, aimed against Israel, called #OpIsraelBirthday which is supposed to start on the 7th of April. The operation is dubbed “birthday“ since it comes to commemorate the last OpIsrael that took place on the same date last year. In recent weeks, there was a lot of internal debate in SenseCy about what has changed from then to now and what can we expect to see in the coming operation. I think that the results of this debate might be interesting to you as well:
– DDoS Attacks – DDoS attacks are nothing new, but recently, attackers have started utilizing a new-old approach in the form of reflection attacks. If a year ago the height of the attack topped at 30Gb/sec attacks, it’s more than plausible to assume that we’re going to see one order of magnitude higher than that. This might be ok for a large sized country but for Israel this might cause problems in the ISP infrastructure itself and not just create a denial of service to the target site.
– Self-Developed Code – If up until now, most of what we have seen coming from the anti-Israel hacktivism groups was reuse of anonymous code, with maybe slight improvements in the UI interface, lately we have started to identify unique/ original code developed by the groups themselves, albeit some of it is dependent on existing code and available libraries but this might be an indicator for things to come.
AnonGhostDDoSer – Developed by AnonGh0st for OpIsraelBirthday
– Dumps vs. Defacements – It seems that the general objective now is less the defacement of sites and more the ability to create harm and panic through the publication of stolen data dumps. We see more and more details regarding allegedly hacked sites (some of them important) with the promise that the databases will be published on the 7th of April. This is probably the first time these hacktivist groups are trying to achieve a more widespread impact that is, at least in spirit, similar to the terror effect.
– Shells and RATs – It seems that SQL injections and cross site scripting is shifting from being the end result to being the means in which the hacktivist groups place web shells on their targets or infect the targets with RATs and other malware. It might, in effect, suggest a more coherent effort to cause more sophisticated damages to their targets.
All in all, it seems that the motivation for the attack remains similar, but the magnitude and scope of the upcoming operation seems to be larger and more dangerous than the last one (in terms of tools available and number of participants). However, companies and organizations that are aware of the threat can, in turn, take actions to handle and mitigate these attacks.
Several hacktivist groups planned to launch a cyber assault (“Op”) against Israel on March 10, as a prequel to a major assault scheduled for April 7.
Although the Op was led by the capablemilitant groups Red Hack (Turkey) and AnonGhost (Tunisia), it did not appear to manifest fully – the scope of the attacks and the extent of damage were marginal at best. Several private Israeli websites were hacked/ DDoSd ?and some email addresses belonging to Bank of Israel employees were leaked (no password or additional details). The Op incorporated several alleged attempts to hack Israeli government sites. One of these was recorded as part of a tutorial on March 9th – a Tunisian hacker affiliated with AnonGhost uploaded a tutorial to YouTube explaining to beginners how to hack websites with different tools, in order to participate in the #OpIsrael attacks on April 7, 2014. The video demonstrates an attempt to hack an Israeli government website with ByteDos, LOIC, Snake Bite and more. It should be mentioned that this video is one of many uploaded to YouTube during the preparations for #OpIsrael and during the preparations for #OpIsrael and other cyber campaigns.
Hackers are creative people. Everybody knows that. They have to be technically creative in order to outsmart security mechanisms, perform their antics and get away without being caught (sometimes). But artistic creativity? Not the first thing we associate with hacking. However, after witnessing their creative works of art, we felt compelled to share these with you.
So you are welcome to enjoy the works of the “Russian classical painters”, the “surrealist hacktivists designers” and the “Iranian masters”:
The SenseCy Cyber Intelligence team, along with our partners ClearSky and Aman Computers, has been providing intelligence monitoring services for leading financial institutes in Israel for over a year. Our unique methodology of using “Virtual Entities” to infiltrate cyber-attack groups and the underground has proven successful in alerting regarding imminent cyber threats, as well as detecting new Malware types and monitoring broader cyber trends.
The following is an extract of an annual report sent to our customers. To receive a copy, please send a request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This report comprises an analysis of data amassed from major cyber incidents pertaining to financial institutions in Israel over the past year, as reflected in the alerts, weekly and monthly reports produced by our Cyber Intelligence team. The analysis can be summarized as follows:
The majority of Hacktivist campaigns were directed against the government and financial sectors.
Interestingly, we have found no correlation between the attack dates and any symbolically significant dates.
The main threat actors were political activists and political cyber warriors.
The more popular attack types were data leakage (exploitation) attacks, resource depletion attacks, injection attacks and social engineering attacks.
Additionally, the report includes an analysis of data collected on the sale of attack tools on underground forums (mostly Russian). The analysis comprises 42 tools and exploits, summarized as follows:
The most popular tools for sale on the underground are bots and exploits (some sold as exploit kits), followed by Trojan horses.
Their main purpose is stealing financial information.
The main functions of the tools sold included running Web injection attacks and grabbers, intercepting and forwarding SMS messages and calls from cell phones, Keyloggers, and DDoS attack tools.
Java was the program identified as most vulnerable to attack.
The most vulnerable Web browser was Internet Explorer, followed closely by FireFox.
The most vulnerable operating system was Windows.
This summary is based on major cyber events pertinent to the financial sector, as published in the various reports we issued throughout the year. The analysis is based on data from over 40 cyber events.
The majority of incidents reported are specifically relevant to the financial sector, but also include a category for general threats to Israeli websites, mainly from political threat elements. This classification is evident in the graph below, with the leading threats being financial, data loss, defacement and DDoS.
Timeline of Events 2013
Classification of the Sale of Attack Tools on the Underground
The summary was based on all malware/exploit sales for the past year that appeared on underground forums, mainly Russian forums, monitored by us – more than 40 in total. The majority of tools for sale arebots, followed by exploits or exploit kits. Trojan horses are also offered for sale, but less frequently.
On December 27, 2013, a hacker group calling itself Anonymous Caucasus (or the “Electronic Army of the Caucasus Emirate”) posted a video message addressed to the Russian government on its website and Facebook page.
In the clip, which was first published in Russian, the group spoke against holding the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games on occupied Circassian lands, where the genocide of the Ubykh people was carried out by Tsarist Russia. The group has threatened the Russian Government and promised to launch a large-scale cyber-attack against it, “should Russian activities in Sochi not cease”. On December 30, this message was posted again, this time in English.
Anonymous Caucasus describes itself as representing all peoples of the Caucasus against the enemy of Islam – Russia. All web platforms of the group – its website, Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube channel – were established in September 2013, and since then, the group claims to have waged several cyber-attacks. The largest of these was in October 2013, where a series of DDoS attacks were launched against five Russian banks.
Two weeks ago, Anonymous Caucasus hacked the website Kavkazpress.ru, a pro-Russian site that disseminates content against Caucasian rebels. Aside from the group’s official platforms, its messages are also posted on the anti-Russian Caucasian rebels’ website – VDagestan.com.