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Israel Vows Retaliation For Credit-Card Hack

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The Israeli government has compared the publication of thousands of credit-card details to a terrorist attack

The Israeli government on Saturday promised to retaliate against a cyber-attack last week that saw the theft and publication of thousands of Israelis’ credit-card details, an incident Israel compared to an act of terrorism.

“Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action,” said Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, in a statement.

‘Breach of sovereignty’

He said the theft represented “a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such”.

An individual using the handle OxOmar claimed responsibility for the attack, and claimed to be part of a Saudi Arabia-based hacking group called Group-XP, which in turn claims to be part of the Anonymous hacking collective.

OxOmar released several batches of credit card data affecting more than 14,000 Israeli cardholders, and has claimed to have the details on 400,000 Isralis, according to reports.

Thus far, many of the card details have proven to be expired or false, but on Sunday Israeli media said an 18-year-old Israeli man had been arrested after using the hacked data to purchase a smartphone, a tablet computer and other items.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said OxOmar had been identified as a 19-year-old United Arab Emirates citizen studying in Mexico, but OxOmar has denied the connection.

Praise from Hamas

Hamas, a militant Islamist group, lauded OxOmar’s actions. “We urge Arab youth to ignore these cowardly Israeli threats and to use all means available in the virtual space to confront Israeli crimes,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Israeli targets of cyber-attacks have included the Bank of Israel, the website of the Tel Aviv municipality, the Israeli army, the Mossad national intelligence agency and Shin Bet, Israel’s security service.

The Israeli government has also been behind its own cyber-agression, according to industry observers. For instance, forensic analysis of the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iranian government targets indicated it appeared to have been developed by Israel along with the US government.