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Experts doubt Anonymous Mossad spy outing claims are kosher

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Hacktivists claim to have published leaked data on more than 30,000 Israeli officials, including members of Israel's Mossad secret service agency.

The boast by members of Anonymous follows a denial of service attack against the Mossad website (www.mossad.gov.il) over the weekend as part of the ongoing #OpIsrael protest. Previously obscure Anonymous affiliate Sector 404 launched the DDoS attack while elements of Anonymous and a Turkish hacker collective called RedHack carried out the data snatch and dump. Experts are however doubtful that leaked information is kosher.

The leaked data - including names, email addresses and physical addresses - were released in the form of spreadsheets through HackerLeaks, Google Docs and other sites and services. A small percentage of the leaked data include ID numbers and phone numbers.

Middle East Internet expert Dr Tal Pavel told the Times of Israel that the data probably referred to Israeli citizens but is unlikely to be a secret list of spies and members of the Israeli defence forces, as the hacktivists claim.

"There is no doubt that they got some identification information about Israelis, but the claims that they hacked the Mossad site and got a list of Mossad agents is most likely psychological warfare, and not a hack into an important database," says Pavel, who has downloaded and analysed the leaked documents.

The data contain many duplicate records, list people with homes in Palestinian towns and links to businesses addresses such as schools, show manufacturers and charities. Pavel, a professor at Tel Aviv University and director of the Middle East Internet Monitor website, reckons the information came from earlier breaches involving Israeli citizens, rather than a new attack against Mossad and the military.

Forbes is also skeptical, even going so far as to suggest that parts of the list had already appeared online months before last weekend's events and noting the implausibility of foreign-based Mossad operatives maintaining Israeli email addresses.

Neither the Israeli government nor Mossad has commented on the claimed breach. ®

Bootnote

#OpIsrael is building up to a planned attack on 7 April that aims at "erasing Israel from the internet" in protest against its treatment of the Palestinian people.

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