Iranian-Backed Hackers Steal Classified Israeli, Saudi Military Info

Cyber attack is response to assassination of Hezbollah leader

Iran-backed hackers stole information from the Israeli and Saudi military
An internet cafe in Tehran / AP
December 17, 2013

An Arab hacking group with ties to the Iranian government claims to have seized classified information from servers belonging to the Israeli and Saudi governments, as well as the Saudi Binladen Group, a construction conglomerate run by the family of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The Islamic Cyber Resistance Group (ICRG) announced via several hacker websites on Monday that it had pulled off the large-scale cyber theft in retaliation for the recent assassination of Hezbollah commander Hassan Hawlo al-Lakkis.

Iran and Hezbollah have said that they believe the Saudis and Israelis worked together to pull off the assassination.

The ICRG published what it claims are the classified personnel records of some 2,000 Israeli military officers and 1,000 Saudi agents, according to hacker websites and reports in the Iranian press.

The hackers then turned their sights on the Binladen Group for its ties to the Saudi government.

The ICRG "extracted more than 7 [gigabytes] of its top secret information and intelligence, including 5,000,000 secret documents," Iran’s state run Fars News Agency reported. "The group said it has hacked ‘1400 PCs and 70 servers and gained full access to SBG domain control and email servers.’"

The ICRG posted all of the stolen information to an online dumping ground so that Internet users could access it.

While Fars reports that the ICRG "did not affiliate itself with Hezbollah or any other party or country," regional experts say it is clear that Iran and Hezbollah are part of the effort.

Fars, the only outlet so far to report on the hacking group, has published three separate reports on the incident.

"I never heard of the ‘Cyber Resistance Group’ before today—but I believe it to be an Iranian military and Hezbollah joint hacking front," said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a non-partisan research group that tracks Middle Eastern media reports.

The hackers use an Iranian-based Wikileaks website as their online base of operations. Fars linked to all of the purportedly stolen files in its report.

"As far as I know there is no real connection between Julian Assange’s Wikileaks and this one—even though he did interview [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah last year for his show on [the Russian news network] RT," Stalinksy said.

The hackers released a statement in Arabic that took aim at both the Israelis and Saudis, two nations that have grown closer in recent weeks over their opposition to the West’s recently signed nuclear accord with Tehran.

"You, who committed this crime, that is the al Qaeda terrorist group and Mossad, be aware that, we, the Islamic Cyber Resistance Group, followers of Prophet Mohammad (S.A), have conducted an operation in the name of martyr Hassan Lakkis to revenge his assassination, and this is a warning to you that the next operation would be much more damaging," the group wrote in a public message. "We present this operation to his children (Ayah, Husain, Zeynab)."

The hackers appear to conflate the Binladen Group with the global terror network al Qaeda.

"To al Qaeda & Mossad: We do not forget, We do not forgive, We know that the most valuable thing for you is your life, So take it & run away, Because on God’s path, the cheapest thing to us is our lives," the ICRG wrote in a style similar to that used by the hacking collective Anonymous.

The hackers say that they seized "emails, contact numbers, [and] military codes" belonging to the Israeli Defense Forces.

They also say that this is just a portion of the total information stolen from the army.

Bahrain's military claimed to have hacked NASA websites earlier this year.