Earlier this year Seculet tracked a stealth virus called Mahdi, which seemed to have been created by technicians at the Islamic Azad University, a chain of private institution headquartered in Tehran. The so-called “spear-phishing” attacks were dropped into normal-looking documents (the one Seculet tracked was mentioned in a Daily Beast story concerning Israel’s own cyberwarfare), allowing hackers to target specific computer accounts, including of “infrastructure companies, financial services and government embassies.” Israel, of course, is all too familiar with the strategy. The Stuxnet computer worm, uncovered in 2010, seemed to have been designed specifically to try to disable Iran’s nuclear operation, and—still not officially confirmed—is thought to have been built by Israeli and American engineers.
By contrast, the more visible hacking blitz by Anonymous this week is brushed off by some analysts as a nuisance, rather than as a serious threat to the IDF. Biddle says Anonymous’s ineffectiveness has a clear reason: Many truly dangerous hackers are laying low or have been arrested. “Anyone with the brains and bravery to do something like hack a major government military contractoris either in the hands of the cops, or afraid of winding up there,” he says.