The Internet is a powerful tool that is once again being
used as a propaganda machine by groups not happy with Israel's invasion of
Lebanon, and vice versa. A number of US government web sites have been
targeted by cracking groups. The latest victim has been NASA who was
attacked by a Chilean group of crackers. With the seriousness of the
situation in the Middle East escalating, security experts expect further
attacks to be made on Israeli and American computer servers.
So far, NASA, University of California, Berkeley, various government web sites
and Microsoft have been targeted. Unfortunately, the fifty
or so machines publically compromised last week are just the tip of the
iceberg. These systems are just peripheral to the amount of Israeli and
Arabic computers under attack, but both sides are doing their best to conceal
the extent of the attacks.
Hackers from both China and the US have occasionally sparred with one another
since early 2001. The initial cyberwar started after a US spy plane
collided with a Chinese fighter jet in April of 2001. Thousands of web
sites in China and the United States were subject to defacements and hacker
attacks for over a month -- and thus earned conflict the title of the first
The difference between the Sino-American Cyberwar of 2001 is that governments
from all sides are participating a bit more, and damages are considerably
higher as well. Lebanese newspapers report that the major
Hezbollah-backed TV and radio stations have been compromised, and that whoever
has retained control of these outlets is now broadcasting messages that
Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah is a liar. PCs compromised in Europe and Russia have been used to send anti-Semitic and anti-Arabic hate mail. Israeli-based denial of service attacks against Hamas and Hezbollah websites have effectively crippled portions of the internet infrastructure on both sides of the conflict.
Digital warfare is certainly a component of modern warfare today: electronics
espionage and jamming are almost as old as electronics themselves. This
new facet of digital sabotage is another story altogether, with digital
warriors partaking from the comfort of their own cable modem virtually
side-by-side with government intelligence agencies hacking and counter-hacking
the same targets.