The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) launched a successful cyberattack on the main infrastructure system of Haifa, one of the most important ports in Israel, disrupting the operation of the servers in charge of urban management systems and public utilities in the city.
The SEA said it has hacked into the Haifa infrastructural system at around 22:00 (local time) Monday night, underlining that the hacking was done in retaliation for the recent Israeli strike on a research center in suburban Damascus.
“We would like to announce that in response to the unfair and illegal attacks of Israel on DATE, the SEA has penetrated one of the main infrastructural systems (SCADA) in Haifa and managed to gain access to some sensitive data,” SEA said in a message left for the Israeli operators of Haifa SCADA system.
A copy of the SEA message to the Israelis was released by pastebin.com/aRCHeRr.
“Also, the SEA is now able to cause irrecoverable damage to the Israelis’ infrastructural systems,” it added.
Israel staged an airstrike on Syria on Sunday, hitting the Jamraya research center in the vicinity of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out the airstrike – the third in the last few months – after heavy losses were inflicted on al-Qaeda-affiliated groups by the Syrian army.
The SEA warned that it could cause a major blast by continuing the attack on the servers of the Haifa infrastructural systems, but avoided further move due to inescapable human casualties as it did not want a story like the recent accident in Texas which claimed the lives of dozens of the people.
“This message carries a serious warning to the Israeli statesmen. They should know that not receiving a quick reaction to such childish ventures does not show the Syrian inability in doing so, but it is based on wisdom and humanity considerations. We do not approve of killing civilians and innocent people as this is an Israeli type of solution,” added the message.
“Also an advice to those who left their homelands for many years, dreaming a happy and safe life, deceived by politicians whose deed is much far from their slogans; Do the best to express your objection to Israeli policies, since we do not like to see innocent people getting killed like in Texas, US, but this time in Haifa.”
The SEA has recently gathered a name for itself in the hacking market by successful attacks on a wide range of the western media, most notably the hacking of AP Twitter accounts and sending of bogus messages which wreaked havoc on stock exchanges. The hackers tweeted that President Obama had been injured in a bomb attack at the White House, causing a temporary 143-point drop on the Dow Jones industrial average.
In an apparent effort to cause disruption and embarrassment in the West and to spread support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the SEA has so far hacked the Guardian, the BBC (including BBC weather, BBC Arabic Online and BBC Radio Ulster), France 24 TV, the National Public Radio in the United States, al-Jazeera, the government of Qatar, E!, and Sepp Blatter, the president of football’s governing body Fifa, whose Twitter account was hacked.
Cybersecurity experts told the Guardian that the SEA attacks are designed to disrupt and embarrass the West and pro-Israeli lobbies, states and entities.
In the BBC case, the SEA, which emerged two years ago, hacked into the Twitter accounts of the British broadcaster and sent nine bogus tweets in an hour, including some with anti-Israeli sentiments, and others saying “Long Live Syria”, and the “Syrian Electronic Army Was Here”.
Guardian itself believes that the SEA attack was a reprisal for a number of leaked emails from the Assads and their inner circle that it had published.
Hours after the cyber-attack began, the SEA said it has targeted the Guardian for spreading “lies and slander about Syria” and said it was in a “state of war with the security team of Twitter”.
But this last cyberattack is certainly a boost in the platform of SEA operations as it required much more sophisticated knowledge and capabilities compared with the previous hackings; giving the Syrian Electronic Army the opportunity to rise to a different level of fame.
SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a type of industrial control system (ICS). Industrial control systems are computer controlled systems that monitor and control industrial processes that exist in the physical world. SCADA systems historically distinguish themselves from other ICS systems by being large scale processes that can include multiple sites, and large distances. These processes include industrial, infrastructure, and facility-based processes.
Industrial processes include those of manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, and refining, and may run in continuous, batch, repetitive, or discrete modes.
Infrastructure processes may be public or private, and include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, wind farms, civil defense siren systems, and large communication systems.
Facility processes occur both in public facilities and private ones, including buildings, airports, ships, and space stations. They monitor and control heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC), access, and energy consumption.
Hackers usually leave a couple of files for their colleagues to prove that their allegations are true. The SEA has left the following files on its website to show others in the hacking industry that it has had a successful security breach and hacking into the Haifa SCADA system.
Cryptome mirror of the PDF and GIF: