Hacktivists target Israel the most, analysis shows

Despite the recent rise of political hacktivism as a response to the war in Ukraine, Israel remained a primary target of pro-religious hacktivist groups, analysis shows.

Between February and April, Israel was the primary target by pro-Islamic hacktivists, accounting for 11% of total attacks, claims a report released by Radware’s security research center.

Hacktivists targeted the country with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, website defacements, and attempts at stealing and leaking sensitive information. Mysterious Team, Anonymous Sudan, and Team Insane PK were the most active hacker groups, targeting mostly travel, education, and government institutions.

Top affected countries | Image by Radware
Top affected countries | Image by Radware

India, Poland, and Australia also targeted

According to the report, India (9%), Poland (8%), and Australia (8%) are the next most targeted countries after Israel.

Number of attacks claimed by country | Image by Radware
Number of attacks claimed by country | Image by Radware

Pro-religious hacktivist groups, such as Anonymous Sudan, Mysterious Team, and Team Insane PK have chiefly targeted Israel, India, and Australia. Poland has been attacked by pro-Russian hacktivists, with attacks linked to the Russian-Ukrainian war.

A major pro-Russian hacktivist force was NoName057(16), which claimed almost 30% of all the attacks researched by Radware and is by far the most active DDoS hacktivist among the politically driven, pro-Russian hacktivists. Ukraine took eighth place with 5% of total attacks, after the US, Germany, and Sweden.

Top claiming actors | Image by Radware
Top claiming actors | Image by Radware

Religious hacktivism

The notion of hacktivism has been controversial. Although some of the methods used by hacktivists may be deemed illegal or unethical, hacktivists justify their actions as a means to promote social or political change and hold powerful organizations and governments accountable for their actions.

While politically driven hacktivism has surged recently as a response to the war in Ukraine, pro-religious hacktivism has been a constant threat over the years.

Muslim hacktivist groups have been known to be well-connected and able to carry out multiple operations simultaneously.

Israel, India, and Australia were targets of pro-Islamic hacktivists during the recent #OpIsrael, #OpIndia, and #OpAustralia Operations.

Pro-Palestinian hacktivists have constantly targeted Israel. In 2013, Anonymous started an annual coordinated cyberattack #OpIsrael that targeted Israeli websites, including those of government, military, and financial institutions, as a way to protest against Israeli authorities. This year attacks intensified after the violent clashes with Israeli authorities in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Australia became the target of pro-Islamic hacktivist groups in March 2023, after a model from the Australian luxury streetwear brand Not a Man's Dream appeared on the catwalk, wearing a transparent fabric with the Arabic phrase "Allah walks with me" inscribed across her body.

The Muslim hacktivist community responded by launching cyberattacks against Australian infrastructure and private organizations. The operation was carried out under the hashtags #OpAustralia and #opsjentik.

Swedish and Danish organizations and critical infrastructure got attacked by Anonymous Sudan under the tags #OpSweden and #OpDenmark after Danish-Swedish right-wing activist Rusmas Paludan burned the Quran outside the Turkish embassy.

Pascal Geenens, Radware’s director of threat intelligence, warns that political and ideological cyberattacks are evolving into a force to be reckoned with.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ushered in a whole new wave of not only patriotic and political hacktivism, but also hacktivism in general. Modern-day hacktivism with its barrage of denial-of-service attacks is bolder, more determined, and more media-driven than ever before,” said Geenens.

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