hackers who identified themselves as members of the online Anonymous network claimed on Monday to have leaked files containing personal information, including credit card numbers and expiration dates, belonging to more than 400,000 Israelis.
They called on surfers to use the details in order to purchase goods online. "It will be so fun to see 400,000 Israelis stand in line outside banks and offices of credit card companies to complain that their cards had been stolen. To see banks shred 400,000 cards and reissue them. To see that Israeli cards are not accepted around the world, like the Nigerian cards," the hackers wrote.
The hackers, who called the cyber attack a "gift to the world for the new year," broke into the "ONE" sports website and announced they had leaked the information. They also attached a link to a webpage from which the data could be downloaded.
The Bank of Israel has
announced that the reported Saudi theft of Israeli credit card numbers is under investigation.
Webpage from which leaked details could be downloaded
An Israeli student claimed that the files released by the Saudi hackers contained only 18,000 unique entries, not 400,000 as the hackers claimed. The files allegedly contained credit card information, including security numbers which allow credit card holders to purchase goods online, as well as phone numbers and addresses.
Ofer Schwartz, a mathematics and computer science major at the Technion, found that while the files do contain 400,000 entries, many of them are repeated several times.
Most of the Israelis whose names appeared in the leaked files confirmed they contained their actual addresses and phone numbers, but the majority said the credit card details were false. A few said the credit card details were accurate but that their cards had already expired.
The list includes many Israeli celebrities, including athletes and cultural figures. A number of them told Ynet the leaked credit card numbers were not theirs.
The file was eventually removed from the Internet. "ONE" said its computer experts neutralized the cyber attack "within minutes."
"It's kind of strange, because the card was canceled a few years ago," one of the Israelis whose personal information was leaked told Ynet. "I specifically told the bank: 'I don't need the card. Destroy it.' I even went to the (bank) branch. This was three to four years ago."
Another Israeli said the credit card details which were posted along with his name were inaccurate. He said he had never used his credit card to make a purchase on the "ONE" website and added "if the major companies are failing to secure information in their possession, it also raises question marks regarding websites where credit cards are used to make purchases. Will these websites not be broken into? Are the banks' websites safe?"
An information security expert told Ynet, "Even if there is no real technological innovation here, the scope makes this cyber attack unprecedented. It proves once again that it's becoming harder and harder to stop determined hackers with today's means."
Ido Kenan and Jonathan Silber contributed to this report