Anti-war hackers broke into three Jewish Web sites last week, swapping the front pages for protests against the conflict in Lebanon.
First hit were the respective Web sites of Yeshiva University and the University of Haifa, by a coalition of international hackers that was led by a Turkish man with the hacker alias Eno7. A day later, the victim was site of the European Union of Jewish Students, an organization of student leaders from across Europe.
Apparently the work of two different groups of hackers, the spate of compromised Web sites represents a new front in efforts to protest the Lebanon War.
Using an anonymous screen name to protect his identity, Eno7 explained his actions in an interview. “Israel is responsible [for] this war,” he wrote in an e-mail. Our target’s Israel every time.” The multinational group of hackers includes people from Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Guatemala, Argentina and Brazil.
On Tuesday, Eno7 sent an e-mail to the Forward claiming that his team had hacked the United Nations’ site. Visitors to the U.N. site were greeted with a message asking them to “check back later.” Eno7 said that previous hacking missions have included fighting poverty and attacking “some terrorist sites who are the enemy of Turkey.”
The hackers posted pictures of injured Lebanese civilians to the Web sites of both Yeshiva University and Haifa University, along with the slogan “Lebanon-Israel&STOP!”
“I am feeling happy,” Eno7 told the Forward, “because my message is being received.”
The European student site was targeted by Team-Evil, a hacking group that claims to hail from Morocco. In July the group hit several high-profile Israeli companies, including Bank Hapoalim and Citroen Israel.
“The attacks are generally carried out using automatic intrusion tools, and no very sophisticated method is involved,” Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer of the network security company Finjan, told the online edition of Globes, an Israeli business portal.
In the case of the European student site, the hackers put up an image of a burning Israeli flag. Later they loaded an Arabic song titled “Allah Ouhakbar” (“God Is Great”) onto the site and then installed a virus that shut down the external server.
As for Eno7, he said that he and his partners had no problem hacking into the two university Web sites. Promising that these sites were only the start, he threatened to hit government, military and university sites in America and in Israel until Jerusalem abandons its fighting in Lebanon.
After being hit, the Yeshiva University Web site shut down quickly, leaving a message that said: “We are currently undergoing maintenance and apologize for the inconvenience.”
A Y.U. official said that the university had notified the New York Police Department and the FBI. The Web site was back up by August 17. The University of Haifa also brought its site back up quickly, the front page fixed just hours after the attack.
The FBI declined to discuss whether it was investigating the Y.U. case. Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the bureau, did say that Web defacements, especially for political purposes, are extremely common but that the FBI is more vigorous in investigating attacks that appear racially motivated. “We look at each one of these individually for what they are and what the motivation may be,” Bresson said. “We get more involved in those types of cases.”
Georgia Pollak, executive director of communications at Y.U., released a statement to the Forward, declaring that the university “condemns illegal hacking and is cooperating with the proper authorities.” Reacting to Eno7’s boast of accessing university information, Pollak said, “As far as we are aware, no other University systems were affected and no sensitive or confidential information was compromised.”
As of press time, visitors to the Web site of EUJS were greeted with an error message.
Nonetheless, the chair of the student group, Olga Israel, was sounding a defiant note.
“The European Union of Jewish Students will not be intimidated by this cyberterrorism or any other action of this kind. It is fitting that this occurred as our team in Brussels attended a pro-Israel demonstration organized by the Belgian Jewish community,” she told the European Jewish Press. “We are all the more determined to continue our current campaign. EUJS will keep supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, its right to exist and its people.”