Israel vowed on Saturday to retaliate against the exposure of thousands of its citizens’ credit card details by hacker claiming to be from Saudi Arabia and said the act was comparable to terrorism.
The data theft, which appeared to focus on commercial web sites, was one of the worst Israel has said it has faced. While the financial damage was reportedly minimal, the breaches have heightened concerns about the potential use of stolen information by the Jewish state’s foes.
Such cyber-attacks are “a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said during a speech at a community center, according to Reuters.
“Israel has active capabilities for striking at those who are trying to harm it, and no agency or hacker will be immune from retaliatory action,” he said, without elaborating.
The hacker, identifying himself as Saudi-based OxOmar, said on Thursday he had leaked private information about more than 400,000 Israelis. Credit card company officials said around 25,000 numbers, some of them expired, had been posted as of Friday.
After Israeli media ran what they said were interviews conducted with OxOmar over email, the Haaretz newspaper said a blogger had tracked the hacker down and determined he was a 19-year-old citizen of the United Arab Emirates studying and working in Mexico.
An aide to Ayalon, Lital Shochat, said Israel was aware of the report but had not yet requested help from Mexican authorities.
But the self-defined “Saudi hacker” said that Israeli blogger got the wrong person, denying he was based in Mexico.
“No one is going to arrest me, it’s not possible,” the hacker who goes by the name “0xOmar” told Israel’s Ynet in an email.
“If a stupid student thinks he can find me in eight hours, what will Mossad do?” the hacker said in the email.
“I want to harm Israel financially and socially,” he said.
“0xOmar” vowed to send more files and more emails, adding that he was from Riyadh, not Mexico. He vowed that his next targets include military contractors and Israeli SCADA systems (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), according to Ynet report.
“It’s impossible to track me via email or Facebook or anything like that. I’m an advanced hacker who knows everything about (the) internet, I know very well (how) to hide myself,” “0xOmar” said in the email.