The ongoing fight between Israel and its Arab neighbors has been taken online, as a Saudi hacking group recently said that it stole and posted the personal and credit card information of nearly 500 million Israeli citizens.
Collectively referred to as Group-X, the hackers said they infiltrated the systems of one of Israel's most popular sports websites, One.co.il, and redirected unsuspecting users to a separate malicious site. From there, the cybercriminals were able to download a file containing the information.
"We have hacked a lot of Israeli servers and extracted a lot of information about Israeli people," a hacker going by the handle "OxOmar" and claiming to be associated with Group-X wrote on the text hosting site Pastebay. "We decided to give the world a new year gift, about 400,000+ Israeli people information!!! [sic]."
However, the Bank of Israel disputed that claim and said the number of people affected by the Internet security breach was closer to 15,000. In a release, the bank said it based its estimation off initial reports submitted by three credit card companies – Cal, Isracard and Leumi Card – to the Banking Supervision Department.
The release also stated that the Banking Supervision Department will continue to work with the companies involved to fully investigate the incident.
"The credit card companies reported that they have identified the cards of the customers whose details were exposed on the Internet, and the cards have been blocked for use in Internet purchases and telephone purchases," the bank stated. "This is expected to prevent fraudulent use of the cards through these methods, following the exposure of the information."
Such incidents are not uncommon for Israel, data security expert Gadi Evron told the Associated Press. In fact, he said the country, which is among the most technologically advanced in the region as well as the world, is one of the most frequently hacked on earth, and many attacks are launched with an anti-government agenda.
“As a rule, whenever there is some sort of ethnic or political tension around the world … you can guarantee that two days later or an hour later, for at least a few weeks, there are going to be some kind of online attacks going on,” Evron said.