As rockets rain down on Gaza, Anonymous’ hacking spree against Israeli websites has turned into a declared cyberwar.
In response to threats by the Israeli government to cut off the inhabitants of Gaza from the Internet, the ‘hacktivist’ collective began taking down Israeli websites Thursday.
On Saturday, the collective escalated the terms of its activities, calling on the Anonymous Collective to “hack, deface, docks, hijack, database leak, admin takeover, four oh four and DNS terminate the Israeli Cyberspace by any means necessary.”
Later that day, Anonymous Pakistan defaced the website of the International Security Academy, securityacademy.com. The website, was only one of many, as hacktivists from around the world joined in on the fray.
The database for the Bank of Jerusalem was also wiped out Friday, although it was restored later. Email addresses and passwords were subsequently leaked onto the Internet.
Not all sites targeted by the collective, however, are part of Israeli cyberspace.
Conservative blogger and journalist Robert Stacy McCain’s website, TheOtherMcCain.com, was targeted Friday because of a post he wrote in which he called Anonymous terrorists for supporting Hamas, the governing authority of the Palestinians in the Gaza strip.
An anonymous reply to McCain’s piece was posted to AnonPaste, which singled out and denounced his website.
McCain — an unabashed and outspoken Anonymous critic — told The Daily Caller that traffic was slowed down to his site for 4-6 hours, preventing his readers from accessing his site.
The amorphous and anonymous nature of the collective, however, allows any person, organization or government to operate under the cover of anonymity within Anonymous.
McCain is critical this facet of the collective — for the way its members hide in anonymity — stating that while he says things that offend people, he puts his name on it.
“These people who engage in these attacks don’t know me from Adam, and all they know is ‘Oh, TheOtherMcCain.com has criticized Anonymous,” he said.
He is also critical of the severity of the impact that Anonymous’ activities have on geopolitics, stating that “we may be on the verge of Armageddon” in the Middle East.
“This is serious stuff. This is global geopolitics involved here, and for these amateur ass-clowns, the laptop brigades, to be fucking around here,” said McCain.
“Are they insane?” he said.
McCain also noted that there are people in prison for participating in Anonymous, including Barrett Brown — who is currently in jail after he was arrested by the FBI for posting threats against an agent on Twitter and YouTube.
“Individuals acting on behalf of this terrorist organization in the United States may be subject to criminal sanctions, they may be subject to investigations at the highest levels of the federal government,” he said.
McCain said that Brown was targeting him due to the promptings of Rauhauser, who has on occasion operated under the cover of Anonymous to attack him.
McCain also stressed to The Daily Caller of the personal impact Anonymous has had on his ability to make a living.
“This is my livelihood. This blog is a money making venture. I am a shameless capitalist,” said McCain.
“Their attack on my site is, never mind the intent to suppress free speech, it’s an attempt to prevent me from earning a living,” he said.
In an email interview with Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account, YourAnonNews, the hacktivist group said that decisions about which websites are attacked are not the result of any OpIsrael leadership, since Anonymous has none.
“OpIsrael is in support of the victims of oppression and violence. Our involvement has nothing to do with Hamas,” said Anonymous.
“Some of our operators are trying to get the same helpful first aid and information about circumventing internet outages to victims in Israel,” said Anonymous. “However, undoubtedly we view the Israeli government as having a clear advantage in this conflict. We feel their history of oppression and human rights violations demands a response.”
“TheOtherMcCain.com chose to attempt to label Anonymous as terrorists. Attacks on any website are not the decision of any OpIsrael leadership. There is none,” said Anonymous.
“Some us are merely involved to help gather and disseminate information to raise awareness and that is our goal. In the digital age, we have a responsibility to respond to the oppression of all peoples, regardless of their race or nationality,” said Anonymous.
The group said that it had taken down 10,000 Israeli websites as of 9am Pacific Standard Time on Saturday.
Anonymous provided similar support to the people of Tunisia at the beginning of the Arab Spring.
Anonymous has generally been on the side of the Palestinians, while considering Israel an oppressive government. A threat against the free flow of information, though, is viewed by the group as a crime against humanity.
“When the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand,” said Anonymous in a video statement Friday.
[Ed. note: Proper capitalization was added to email statements as a formatting decision.]