BEIRUT: An Israeli network security company brought down a Hizbullah-run Web site last week using hacking technology developed in China, Haaretz reported Tuesday. According to the daily, the Israeli company Applicure employed relatively cheap, accessible and easy to use software to bring down the site, english.hizbollah.tv, with only 10 computers.
The Daily Star could not independently confirm the report.
Nevertheless, in the wake of the report, commentators were already questioning the ways in which privately waged cyber-warfare could affect the tense relationship between avowed enemies like Israel and Hizbullah.
The term used to describe the use of a singular or coordinated assault on a Web site to prevent it from properly functioning is "denial of service" (DOS) or distributed denial of service (DDOS). DOS or DDOS attacks utilize a number of computers, infected by viruses or Trojan horses and grouped into networks, to bombard a Web site with an overwhelming number of illegitimate requests, preventing it from servicing legitimate requests.
DOS is only one of many way to bring down a Web site or network, but it is often considered the most popular method because it does not require the advanced software used in other forms of Web sabotage.
Computers used by and often hijacked (without the knowledge of the primary user) by hackers are known as bots. Only ten of these bots, according to Haaretz were needed to interrupt the Hizbullah site.
Haaretz reported that Applicure was "trying out breaking-in tools developed by Chinese hackers," when it brought down the site. The report added that the software used was intended for "laymen," not hackers well-versed in programming.
In addition, the article noted that this particular software is relatively cheap, as little as $260 a year with a limited number of bots, and that it use to disrupt services can earn a user a six figure salary, primarily through blackmail.
Applicure has partners in South Korea, which is reportedly a popular place for Chinese hackers to disrupt Web-based services, especially gaming sites, which are quite popular. China's Computer Emergency Response Team increased its risk assessment to China's internal network twenty fold in 2007.
In the United States, DOS attacks often target online gambling sites where the private information of users, like credit card information can be mined, by infecting the largest number possible of personal computers with Trojan horses.
Citing technology and security experts, the report said this kind of virus infects an entire site and tires to "download" itself on to as many users computers as possible.