Israeli Credit Card Breach: Political Statement?

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Top Five Recommendations for Mitigating the Effects of DDoS Attacks

Like many security companies, Coreo made a few cyber threat predictions for 2012. They are:

  • More organizations will realize that they have compromised computers in their infrastructure already-persistent threats.
  • Cyber attacks, including DDoS, will increasingly be used as a method of protest or demonstration worldwide.
  • Application layer DDoS Attacks will continue to grow in prevalence.
  • DDoS attacks on DNS infrastructure will increase.
  • Data breaches will continue to be reported at high rates.
  • Vulnerabilities will continue to be discovered in browser software.
  • Privacy-killer malware on tablets and smartphones will take advantage of location services, cameras, and voice to cause loss and embarrassment for users of infected devices.
  • Some organizations will begin to limit the way their members use the Internet by using whitelists to govern access.

With the news of the Israeli credit card number exposure, Coreo's CEO Marty Meyer said that, less than two weeks into the new year, we've seen a combination of predictions #2 and #5 come true already.


Meyer said to me via email:

In 2011, we observed a diversification of the motivations behind another kind of cyber attack, the Distributed Denial of Server (DDoS) attack. The most common motivation for these types of attacks over the past few years has been the pursuit of illicit financial gain and unethical/unfair business advantage. However, in late 2010 and throughout 2011, we saw the rapid appearance of political activism and ideological activism as motivators for these attacks.

Meyer added that the data breach involving the 20,000+ Israeli credit card numbers is also likely politically motivated, explaining:

Typically, the motivations for data breaches involve the pursuit of illicit financial gain, usually through the re-sale of credit card information and/or fraudulent purchases, or identity theft. However, in this case, the fact that the attacker(s) published the information, rather than trying to use it for financial gain, suggests a motivation more likely to be ideological and/or political.

I think Meyer makes a good point, especially if you follow the story of this particular hack. The person taking responsibility for it is based in Saudi Arabia. At least one person in Israel claims to have taken revenge on Saudi credit cards (although this hasn't been verified yet). I can see Anonymous doing something like that - taking revenge for a hack - but when you consider the animosity between Israel and most Middle Eastern countries, you can't help but suspect the point is political.

Will we see more personal political agendas play themselves out via cyber attacks and cyber threats? I would suspect so. In fact, I'm bracing for it in what promises to be a very ugly political fight here in the U.S. in the coming months. 2012 very well could become the year cyber attacks become a political or ideological statement.

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