Business Continuity Management / Disaster Recovery , Critical Infrastructure Security , Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks

'This Attack Is Akin to 9/11': Israeli Cyber Leaders Respond

Here's How Israeli Security Execs Reacted to the Attack by Palestinian Militants
'This Attack Is Akin to 9/11': Israeli Cyber Leaders Respond
Airstrikes launched by Israel against Gaza Strip targets on Oct. 9, 2023 (Image: Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli cybersecurity leaders reacted Saturday with shock, defiance and resolve to an unprecedented land, sea and air assault by Palestinian militants from Gaza.

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Palestinian militants infiltrated 22 Israeli towns and army bases Saturday in the broadest invasion of Israel's territory in 50 years, kidnapping civilians and soldiers and firing thousands of rockets from Gaza toward cities as far away as Jerusalem, The New York Times said. At least 250 Israelis were reported dead and more than 1,400 wounded, and at least 234 Palestinians died in either gun battles or airstrikes.

Multiple self-proclaimed hacktivists who congregate on Telegram said they had targeted Israeli websites with distributed denial-of-service attacks. The Jerusalem Post reported going offline during the early hours of Sunday. The website appeared to be completely restored later in the day although interim outages persisted through Sunday. The Russian-speaking Anonymous Sudan group asserted responsibility for the DDoS attack.

Telemetry from Cloudflare showed a Saturday spike in Israeli internet traffic, although the overall ratio of bot to human traffic was at normal levels. Internet service in the Gaza Strip stopped on Saturday, although it appeared to resume on Sunday, data from Ioda shows.*

Much of the Israeli cybersecurity community's anger stems from the deliberate targeting of civilians - particularly women, children and the elderly - by Hamas militants. GGV Capital Managing Partner Oren Yunger said the missile alarms following the launch of thousands of rockets at Israeli homes created a diversion for Hamas to infiltrate civilian towns and attack a music festival populated with young adults.

"It is no coincidence this atrocious terrorist attack was timed to the morning of Sukkot holiday when families stay at home together to celebrate," Cyera co-founder and CEO Yotam Segev wrote on LinkedIn. "The jubilation in Gaza and across other places over the murder of innocents is horrid. This attack is akin to 9/11, an unprovoked terrorist assault on civilians. Israel's response will be swift and mighty."

'I Hate This Helpless Feeling'

Eitan Worcel served for a long time in the Israel Defense Forces and the military reserves before moving to the United States in 2016 and starting vulnerability remediation firm Mobb in January 2022. Worcel said on LinkedIn that he's scheduled to attend a CISO summit in Miami this week but doesn't know how he'll be able to do that "given my home is being attacked by barbaric terrorists."

"I know it's illogical, I know that life must go on, that I have a business to run and that I couldn't help even if I was back home, but I can't get rid of these thoughts," Worcel wrote on LinkedIn. "I hate this helpless feeling and I so wish not to feel that ever again."

Noam Schwartz urged members of the cybersecurity community to reach out to friends, colleagues and partners with ties to Israel and ask them how they're holding up. The co-founder and CEO of online trust and safety platform ActiveFence said everyone in Israel is still focused on ensuring the safety of their loved ones and processing the events of this dark day.

"This isn't just another blip in the news or a fleeting moment of the never-ending conflict," Schwartz wrote on LinkedIn. "They are navigating an unprecedented situation in their lifetime, witnessing events they never believed they would see. Your words go a long way and might be the anchor they need."

'Even the Deepest Night Eventually Meets Dawn'

Dani Woolf - founder and CEO of Audience 1st, which provides customer research to growth-stage cybersecurity companies - asked her fellow Israeli citizens to stand firm against threats, challenge misinformation and support one another. Woolf said supporters of Israel must challenge and correct falsehoods, stand united and "be relentless in our empathy and support for all who are suffering."

"I feel deep anguish as I watch events unfold on the attacks on Israel and its innocent citizens. Anger, sadness, confusion, and above all, helplessness," Woolf wrote on LinkedIn. "Never accept or tolerate any form of terror, fear, militancy or threat, whether physical or verbal. We must steadfastly oppose those who aim to spread discord and hatred."

Like many others, First Quality Enterprises CISO Ariel Litvin reflected on the timing of the attack, which occurred not only during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot but also almost exactly 50 years after a coalition of Arab states launched a surprise attack against Israel on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur. Litvin said Saturday's "chilling storm of rockets and invasions" reflect "a narrative rooted in my homeland's reality."

"Villages and cities, the lifeblood of our nation, bore the brunt. The cost is still unfolding, but it's clear: it's a heavy burden," Litvin wrote on LinkedIn. "But as an Israeli, even amidst these whirlwinds, I'm reminded of a timeless truth: even the deepest night eventually meets dawn."

With reporting from Information Security Media Group's Prajeet Nair in Bengaluru

*Updated Oct. 8, 2023 17:37 UTC: Adds information about DDoS attacks and internet connectivity in Israel and the Gaza Strip


About the Author

Michael Novinson

Michael Novinson

Managing Editor, Business, ISMG

Novinson is responsible for covering the vendor and technology landscape. Prior to joining ISMG, he spent four and a half years covering all the major cybersecurity vendors at CRN, with a focus on their programs and offerings for IT service providers. He was recognized for his breaking news coverage of the August 2019 coordinated ransomware attack against local governments in Texas as well as for his continued reporting around the SolarWinds hack in late 2020 and early 2021.




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