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Pro-Israel hackers threaten tit for tat after credit card leak

Saudi e-stores and Israeli diplomat's site nobbled in cyber-spat

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Pro-Israel hackers have reportedly breached Saudi shopping sites in retaliation for the publication of Israeli credit-card details by a pro-Palestinian "Saudi" hacker last weekend.

A hacker called OxOmar, who claimed to be a member of Saudi hacking group Group-XP, leaked a series of lists supposedly containing the details of 400,000 shoppers who had purchased goods from Israeli sports website, One.co.il, and elsewhere. Local banks claimed much of the information was either out of date or duplicate, and that only 14,000 credit card records were actually exposed.

OxOmar claimed he had released the list partly out of a desire to weaken global businesses' trust in the security of Israeli-issued credit cards.

This inflamed one Israeli official, who compared the data leak to an act of terrorism. In a speech, Israeli deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon stated the attack was "a breach of sovereignty comparable to a terrorist operation, and must be treated as such", adding that "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".

Such sabre-rattling was more than a little misplaced, especially in the absence of a clear target. OxOmar, rather than being from Saudi Arabia, may actually be a 19-year-old UAE national living in Mexico, at least according to one theory in Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.

Ayalon's personal website was hacked on Monday, briefly directing surfers to an Islamic website that stated: "We declare war in cyberspace, do not be afraid of these monkeys."

In a series of Twitter and Facebook updates, Ayalon acknowledged the hack, which he described as racist.

"This morning some Muslim extremists hacked into my website to try and prevent me from continuing to do my work on behalf of the State of Israel, especially my online public diplomacy," he said. "We will not be weakened nor silenced by such attempts."

He added, via Twitter, that the hack was racist because it "contained quotes invoking Allah and referred to Jews as 'pigs and monkeys'".

In an opposing move, pro-Israeli hackers are threatening to release thousands of credit cards stolen from Saudi shopping sites. “If the leaks continue, we will cause severe damage to the privacy of Saudi citizens,” one of the hackers told Israeli news site Ynetnews.com.

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli hackers have been defacing each others' sites and flinging malware at each other for years, but this has seldom if ever involved leaking credit card details or the intervention of senior political figures. ®

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