Hackers Assault Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Websites, Causing Slowdown

Hackers attacked the websites of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (ELAL), slowing down access after a pro-Palestinian computer group calling itself “Nightmare” warned of an imminent assault.

Both the stock exchange and El Al, Israel’s biggest carrier, said today their websites had been affected by the attack, though not immobilized. Stock trading was unaffected.

“What was hacked was our main website, which provides information,” Idit Yaaron, a Tel Aviv Stock Exchange spokeswoman, said by telephone. “The trading computer was not hacked and trading is going on as usual.”

Nightmare signaled its plan to attack the two corporate websites in an e-mail last night to the Ynet news service, which reported on its own site that the message was sent by a person identifying himself as a Saudi Arabian hacker. The same person has been exposing the numbers of thousands of Israeli credit cards in recent weeks.

El Al issued a statement saying it was taking measures to protect its website and warned there may be more disruptions. The company’s stock was unchanged at 61.3 shekels at 12:22 p.m.

Israel, home to the largest number of technology startups per capita in the world, has given special grants to nurture companies dealing with computer security and is recognized internationally for its expertise.

Imperfect

“No system is perfect,” Ron Porat, chief executive officer of Hacktics Ltd., said on Israeli Army Radio. “My entire life has been spent finding holes in systems” and fixing them, said Porat, whose Israeli company was bought last year by the international accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

The Palestinian Hamas movement called yesterday for an escalation of Internet hacking against Israel, declaring an electronic war against the Jewish state. A group referring to itself as the Gaza Hacker team attacked websites last week belonging to the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, and Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Hackers attacked First International Bank Ltd. (FTIN)’s marketing site, though no damage was caused to its online banking site, Dafna Zucker, a spokeswoman, said by telephone. The marketing site was fixed within minutes, she said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a National Cyber Directorate in August to guard against infiltration of the country’s government and business computer systems.

“This battlefield is not limited by borders, it is fought behind the scenes,” Dan Meridor, Israel’s minister of intelligence and atomic energy, said on Army Radio. “You can’t see it and blood isn’t spilled, but there is a battle in new and developing worlds.”

Hamas, which controls Gaza, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net; Alisa Odenheimer in Jerusalem at aodenheimer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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