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The Internet Is the Middle East's Next Battleground

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While Israel is prepared for military attacks from all sides, there is another type of attack that is occurring with more and more frequency. Tablet’s Benjamin Runkle reports on how terrorists are using cyber attacks to target Israel, the U.S., and the rest of the world:

For the past year, the attention of policymakers and pundits following the Middle East has been absorbed with the twin problems of Iran’s nuclear program and the Islamic State. At the same time, however, another threat emanating from the region has quietly metastasized with potentially significant repercussions for America and its allies. Consider that since June 1:

• The U.S. Army’s public website was taken offline due to a Distributed Denial of Service attack by Syrian hackers;

• Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly confirmed that Hezbollah was behind a “Volatile Cedar,” a three-year cyber-spying campaign targeting Israel, Western countries, and other Middle Eastern states;

• WikiLeaks published 70,000 documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry believed to have been among a half million documents stolen by Iranian hackers; and

• A group of hackers claiming affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took down the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ website and threatened its director…

Iran is only one of many adversaries targeting U.S. and regional allies’ computer networks. Before its take-down of the Army’s website in June, the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) had defaced the U.S. Marine Corps’ recruiting website, knocked out websites belonging to media outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post, and even hijacked President Obama’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. This January, on the same day President Obama delivered a major address on cybersecurity, ISIL-affiliated hackers seized control of CENTCOM’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts. The self-proclaimed “CyberCaliphate” has since hacked Newsweek’s Twitter account and replaced live programming on France’s TV5 Monde with pro-ISIL propaganda. And during both 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense and last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, Israel came under massive cyber-attack from the hackers collective Anonymous and state-sponsored groups such as the SEA.

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