Hackers breached the Israeli Defense Ministry Computer through malicious software attached email, according to an Israeli cyber security firm on Sunday. The email looked as if it was sent by the Israel Security Agency, Shin Bet.
Palestinians were suspected to be behind the attack because it was similar to the year-ago assault on Israeli computers launched from a server in Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, said Aviv Raff, the Chief Technology officer at Seculert.
The official also added that earlier this month, hackers gained access to 15 computers; one of them belonged to the Civil Administration monitoring Palestinians in east Jerusalem and West Bank.
However, other Israeli officials declined to comment on Raff’s revelations, “We are not commenting on it, we don’t respond to such reports,” told Guy Inbar, a spokesman for Civil Administration.
The latest attack originated from a server in the US bearing similarities to earlier attacks in writing and composition. Seculert do not know yet as of what the hackers did after initial infection with “Xtreme RAT” malicious software.
“All we know is at least one computer at the Civil Administration was in control of the attackers; what they did we don’t know,” said Raff.
The Civil Administration unit of Israel Defense Ministry oversees transfer of goods between Israel and the territories controlled by Israel—West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians have been demanding a separate free state for these areas.
There is no information available about the other 14 hacked computers. But an Israeli official on condition of anonymity did claim that these included companies dealing with Israeli defense infrastructure supply.
Raff claimed that the 15 computers were in control of hackers for several days. Raff’s team deactivated the attack by tricking the software into communicating with Seculert controlled servers. Xtreme Rat was a remote access trojan giving the hackers complete access of the infected machine, whereby they could easily steal information, load additional malware or gain deeper access to network.
The cyber attack was launched just one day ahead of the three-day Israeli cybertech conference being held at Jerusalem and immediately after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plugged in technological feats of Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
However, Raff denied any ironical undertone and commented, “Unfortunately there is no such thing as 100 percent safety either when it comes to physical risks or information security.”