BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinian are safeguarding their systems against hacking as cyber crime soars in the Middle East, a Palestinian Authority official said Monday.
Presidential adviser on information technology Sabrio Saydam told Ma’an the PA did not have a national team specialized in cyber technology, but said the cabinet was considering forming a technical committee to represent all institutions.
Meanwhile, Palestinian institutions coordinated between themselves, he said, adding that several had taken preemptive measures installing software and contracting specialists to protect their systems.
The Palestinian Monetary Fund and several banks operating in Palestine have also upgraded the protection of their financial systems, Saydam said.
“Some banks’ main servers have been targeted, but data was not penetrated at all,” he added.
Israel opened an agency to tackle cyber attacks earlier this month.
On Jan. 16, hackers disrupted online access to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Airlines and three banks in what the government described as a cyber-offensive against Israel.
The central bank of the United Arab Emirates said Sunday it had fended off an onslaught from hackers days after a group calling themselves the IDF Team said it would disable the bank’s website.
The group — whose name apparently refers to the Israeli Defense Force — also said it would target state-linked websites in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in revenge for a wave of Israeli credit card code thefts by a hacker who claimed to be operating out of Saudi Arabia.
UAE-based IT expert Muatazz Kokash told Ma’an the series of attacks did not amount to a “cyber war.”
“There are attacks by unidentified hackers on individuals and organizations here and there, but it takes two parties to make a war,” Kokash said.
He added that the identity or origin of the hacker using the pseudonym Ox Omar — allegedly behind the theft of Israeli credit card codes — could not be confirmed.
“Everything is hypothetical and it is not easy at all to identify the hackers.”