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Israel: computer systems hit by malware ‘on behalf of Hamas’

November 2, 2023 at 1:24 pm

Binary code displayed on a laptop screen and Guy Fawkes, symbol of the Anonymous hackers group on March 1, 2022 [Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

A study conducted by an Israeli security company has revealed a new malware that can erase and disable computer systems. It is suspected that hackers used it against official institutions within the occupation state, for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, Ynet reported yesterday.

Security Joes detected the malware in several networks of Israeli companies, where it caused a lot of damage when it was activated. The malicious erasure programme is called BiBi-Linux, and it is likely that the hackers were trying to send a message with that name, but it is not clear whether it was just mockery or an attempt to cover their tracks. Bibi is the nickname of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The features of this malicious software remind us of advanced cyber weapons that some countries have developed, most notably the Shamoon virus, which is a malicious programme that the Iranians used to attack computer systems throughout the Middle East,” said Ynet. “Some suspect that the Shamoon virus was built on a cyber weapon that Israel and the US used to attack Iranian targets a decade ago, according to some foreign media, but it is not yet clear whether the current malware is an upgraded version of an old weapon or is a new, original production. Moreover, the source of this malware is not yet clear.”

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The development of this type of malware requires advanced capabilities that are not usually available to hackers’ groups, not even cyber groups affiliated with terrorist organisations.

“We identified this malware in a group of Hamas sympathisers,” explained Security Joes CEO Ido Naor. “Hamas could have the capabilities to develop such malware, but at the moment, we’re still investigating the group’s capabilities.”

The malware was detected after the company was called upon to assist Israeli companies that were attacked as part of their volunteer efforts for the war in Gaza.

The list of countries that possess cyber weapons of this calibre includes Iran, China, North Korea and most likely Russia. “These countries’ cyber activity has posed significant challenges in recent years. While China focuses on its espionage efforts, North Korea attempts to blackmail victims due to its struggling economy with the help of ransomware, and Russia concentrates on propaganda and disinformation. Iran is the only one among these four countries that has mainly engaged this malware in destructive attacks.”

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The report notes that there is no doubt that the use of such malicious software indicates the increased capabilities of hackers loyal to Hamas and that their activity is no longer limited to sabotaging websites, hacking email inboxes or stealing data, as was the case until now. The activities of these hackers have become dangerous and could cause severe damage to any company or organisation affected by the programme.