Israel’s national cyber defense bureau warns Iran and other anti-Israel activists are expected to launch cyber attacks in the next week.

By Yakir Benzion

The National Cyber Directorate (INCD) issued a warning on Wednesday for Israelis to be prepared for expected cyber attacks by Iran and other anti-Israel activists in the coming weeks.

The INCD said that as part of the annual Iranian organized “Quds Day” (Jerusalem Day) when Iranian hackers and anti-Israel activists attempt to coordinate cyber attacks against Israel.

The annual Quds Day protests call for the destruction of the State of Israel and are also held in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere, occurring on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Iran has marked Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic Revolution by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and the Iranian regime uses the day as an annual opportunity to gather crowds for mass “death to Israel” and “death to America” chants.

The malicious cyber activity is expected to take place this year between May 14-22 with the goal of trying to damage Israel.

From previous experience, the INCD expects hackers to focus on corrupting and overloading Israeli websites, disseminating propaganda messages on various platforms, and swamping phone centers.

“In general the main purpose of these groups is to produce media echoes and create panic and fear through captivating imagery and slogans,” Lavi Stockhammer, an official with the INCD, told Israel Defense magazine.

“Although these are not sophisticated attacks and their success is limited each year, the increased reliance on technology due to the coronavirus crisis has created a widespread attack surface that may also be exploited by hackers, therefore, organizations must always be prepared for any scenario,” he said.

Officials warned the public to be extra vigilant and suspicious during this period when using digital space and avoiding clicking on links, opening suspicious attachments to e-mails and providing personal information online. Recent hacking attempts include sending SMS messages disguised as Israel Ministry of Health updates or bank messages with a link to click on.

The INCD also reported a possible new computer virus called the “corona virus” with hackers taking advantage of the huge discourse surrounding the corona crisis to try to create malware using the same name. Israeli defensive measures include a national hotline to report suspected cyber attacks.