A new, focused group of hackers from a number of Arab countries is reportedly attacking Western websites in retaliation for an anti-Islamic video that has been cited as the proximate cause for violent demonstrations in the Middle East, including the recent attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead.
"The hacking operations are of course a response to the offense against the prophet, peace and blessing be upon him," a member of the self-proclaimed Arab Electronic Army, comprised of hackers from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other countries, told Alarabiya.net recently.
Innocence of Muslims, a collection of incendiary video clips uploaded to YouTube in June by an individual believed to be an Israeli real estate developer living in the United States, has been cited by the media as the spark for a violent, concentrated anti-Western in several Muslim countries in North Africa that culminated in a series of attacks on US embassies on 11 September.
So far, the Arab Electronic Army has reportedly defaced a number of relatively low-profile Web properties, many of them with Brazilian domain names, including www.handmet-military.net, www.paradaviva.com, www.vibeararuama.com.br, nioaquemaisnoticias.com.br, itamixfm.com.br, clickboahora.com, frizzera.com.br, leapresentes.com.br, mucuriverdade.com.br, and mundiostur.com.br, according to an individual calling himself Ridouan, named by Alarabiya.net as a "spokesman" for the hacker collective.
Ridouan, whose hacker alias is "RéD-Zàr," told the site that the Arab Electronic Army is planning more cyber attacks to "repel all offenses against our religion."
Alhough the nascent group has yet to generate a big takedown, some in the security community are taking the emergence of the Arab Electronic Army seriously, including a number of banks that are "going on high alert," according to network security management contractor AlgoSec.
"Cyber hacktivism is a reality in today's highly charged environment. These cyber terrorists are targeting critical infrastructure, taking down highly publicized sites, and working to steal sensitive information, so government and businesses must ensure they do not take these threats lightly," said Sam Erdheim, director of security strategy at AlgoSec.
"That means [you should] stay up to date on your patches, mitigate risks within firewall configurations, and continuously monitor your network for suspicious activity. And make sure your employees are aware of the threats and tactics."