понедельник, 5 ноября 2007 г.

Electronic Jihad, A Different Opinion


Last week the press light up full of concern over the impending "electronic jihad" attack to come this November 11. While it is true that jihadis are online, and are trying to improve their hacking skills, they are not yet capable of a serious attack. The threat in question is more of a statement of intent than a warning of a serious attack to come.

The current hubbub began when DEBKA file announced that they had found a post calling for "electronic jihad" and online attacks on Shiite, "Crusader" and Israeli targets and threatening to act on 11.11.07. DEBKA didn’t say where they found the post, but it was on Al-Jinan’s new site (www.al-jinan.net, Jinah meaning paradise), and wasn’t nearly as threatening as the DEBKA release suggested.

Al-Jinan is home to many jihadi DDoSers and defacers, and up until recently these hackers would post their successes on the forum. After the most recent attack Al-Jinah requested them to stop doing this as they believe it invited retribution and the last, most damaging hack. Al-Jinan claims that it lost all of its content due to that latest attack on the forum, and asked all previous members to subscribe again (they also moved to a new server and increased their security against future attacks).

In addition to the new site, Al-Jinan also released a new version of its program e-Jihad, now v.3.0. The e-jihad, aka as electronic jihad, wasn’t much beyond a way of turning your computer into a voluntary bot, and v. 3.0 made no changes to the actual program, only the interface’s appearance. A new security member requiring would-be members to be referred by an existing member was also added.

It features in the current furor over a November 11 attack however, as although the targets of e-jihad’s DDoS attacks are only announced a few hours before the actual attack, but when one installs e-jihad v. 3.0, the target window is already filled with the English phrase “First Attack 11-11-2007.” This is most likely where DEBKA got the 11/11 date, although a possibly-related forum post did say that an attack would take place on 11.11.07 in retaliation for attacks on jihadi sites. The wording of that post suggested a DDoS as well.

An accompanying post further fled the media sensationalism. Posted by a new (at least to me) group calling itself the Victorious Martyrs' Brigade (Katibat al-Ada al-Mansurin in Arabic), the group announced an “imminent” electronic jihad. The post focused on Arab Muslims, and although a banner called for attacks on Shiites and “Crusaders,” the txt focused mostly on the Israelis, claiming that Israeli cyber attacks had cost more lives than bombs. The post also stressed that these attacks would not work unless many people joined and said that eventually “hundreds of thousands” would flock to their banner of electronic jihad. It is from this that DEBKA file most likely got it’s a warning of an attack featuring hundred of thousands of attackers.

In conclusion, the jihadis have certainly showed that they have the will to conduct cyber attacks and that they are working on improving their technical skills, but for the time being there are not enough truly talented jihadis to pose a true cyber threat. What skilled hackers they have would be better used (form their perspective) organizing and recruiting members, protecting communications and even raising funds (the Madrid bombings were mostly funded by ATM fraud) for more traditional attacks. November 11 may see some DDoS activity, but I will be surprised if a true cyber attack appears. Of course I could always be wrong, but I don’t think that I am.
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