Tool of First Resort: Israel-Hamas War in Cyber

Cybersecurity is a critical factor in geopolitics, especially during times of conflict. Offensive cyber operations are widespread, but the tactics and objectives of threat actors can vary widely. For example, during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cyber tactics were used to support military action. In a recent report, “Tool of First Resort: Israel-Hamas War in Cyber,” findings were shared on the escalation of offensive cyber operations following the October 7 terrorist attacks. After the attacks by Hamas, cyber operations by Iran and Hezbollah-linked groups became more concentrated and focused, with objectives including undercutting public support for the war. This report serves as an example of how cyber operations are used as tools of first resort, providing a lower-cost, lower-risk way for rivals to engage in conflict, gather information, disrupt daily life, and shape public perceptions without direct confrontation.

Google has been tracking and protecting users from cyber threat activity before, during, and after the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7. The report includes new findings on Iranian-government backed phishing campaigns, hack-and-leak and information operations, as well as disruptive attacks targeting Iran and Hamas-linked cyber operations. This illustrates the increasing role of cyber operations in geopolitical conflicts, and the need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect against these threats.

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