Matthew Baylot (@mkbaylot) November 20, 2012
Hacker collective Anonymous declared war on Israel, a feat that historically doesn’t end well for those who do. Writing in Forbes, contributor Michael Peck notes that while Anonymous has managed to annoy Israel with some minor successes, the last thing the hacker group may want is to earn the status of a true threat to Israeli security.
The interesting question is how Israel will respond. Jerusalem is unlikely to call in the Shayetet 13 naval commandos to raid hacker hideouts, or disrupt hacker supply lines by sending drones to strike truck convoys carrying Red Bull energy drinks. But the nation that disrupted Iran‘s nuclear program with the Stuxnet virus clearly has some cyberwarfare capabilities of its own, plus a thriving cybersecurity industry. an aggressive national intelligence service, and a general willingness to respond ruthlessly when it feels its national interests are threatened.
Even if Israel does respond, they may find that it’s much easier to hunt Hamas missile launchers than a loosely organized group of hackers. But where the U.S. treats hacking as a law enforcement issue, if Anonymous crosses a red line (there are lots of those in the Middle East), then Israel may treat this as a national security issue. And the rules and the methods of that game are a lot tougher.
Those tougher “rules and methods” have included targeted assassinations of terrorists in the physical world, but there are not any known instances of Mossad or other Israeli intelligence services killing hackers.
Quite a few tweeters hostile to Anonymous enthusiastically tweaked the hacking collective on this point.
At this point, a cyber-weapon response is probably Israel’s preferred option, and if members of Anonymous are as intelligent as they like to think they are, they’ll be sure to remain merely an annoyance.