The conflict in the Middle East is being fought in cyberspace as well as on the ground, showing that hacking is developing into a recognised form of international warfare, according to a leading security analyst.
Intelligence agency mi2g said that the Israeli .il domain suffered 67 per cent of all significant web defacements over the last two weeks, while Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has been caricatured in a new wave of viruses.
In the past 14 days, Israeli domains suffered 10 of the 15 most significant web defacements in the Middle East.
Since the start of the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising, in September 2000, 1,295 Middle East domains have been defaced, 42 per cent (548) of which were .il domains.
According to the mi2g research, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt were the victims of 13, 12 and 12 per cent of attacks respectively. Israel may have suffered more because it is a bigger target with more than 1.1 million internet connections.
Israeli domains were defaced 413 times in 2001, up 220 per cent from the year before, said mi2g.
DK Matai, chairman and chief executive of mi2g, said: "The tense situation in the Middle East is reflected in both covert and overt hack attacks.
"Historically, we have seen similar asymmetric attacks develop in the case of the Nato-Serbia war in April 1999, the China-Taiwan stand-off in August 1999 and the US-China spy plane incident in April 2001."
According to defacement statistics at Alldas.org, anti-Israel political defacement groups Egyptian|Fighter and WFD are mainly responsible for the attacks.
Noticeably, the attacks by these groups have picked up since the 11 September atrocities.
Recent variants of the MyLife virus, which appeared in the wild on numerous occasions last week, featured an infected screensaver caricature of prime minister Sharon.
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