Cyber attack on Lebanon state internet provider Ogero disrupts services

Suspicion has fallen on Israel, which has ramped up cyber warfare in area since start of current conflict with Hezbollah

Lebanese family lives in classroom for five months

Lebanese family lives in classroom for five months
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Lebanon's state internet provider Ogero came under a 10-day cyber attack that ended on Sunday, two sources have told The National.

“Services all over Lebanon were interrupted,” said a well placed source with direct knowledge of the attack. “[Attacks] increased tremendously in the last two weeks.”

While the perpetrator was not immediately confirmed, suspicion has fallen on Israel, which has ramped up its technological and cyber warfare amid its conflict in south Lebanon with Hezbollah.

Israeli cyber attacks on Lebanon are common.

"There's no way to specifically confirm where it came from, but given the situation the thought is it likely came from Israel," said a senior security source.

However, the impact of the attack appeared underwhelming, as Lebanon's population already endures recurring connectivity problems.

User complaints about slow speeds are common, as are strikes at Ogero and other internet providers. Industrial action, related to pay disputes, often leads to internet blackouts.

Abed Kataya, a digital security expert at SMEX, a digital human rights organisation, said there could be a number of reasons why Ogero was attacked.

"It could be to disrupt the network. Or it could be to weaken the network in order to go in and get to a specific database or traffic data and steal it. Hackers would either sell it or it’s someone from outside Lebanon - in this instance, Israel.

"There should be a follow up on what happened. From 2021 to now there have not been updates to our counterdefense systems because there is no money," he added.

In an earlier cyber attack this year, information screens at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport were hacked with anti-Hezbollah messages.

Since October 8, Iran-backed Lebanese armed group and political party Hezbollah has been engaged in near-daily cross-border attacks with archenemy Israel.

Hezbollah says it is carrying out strikes in support of its embattled Palestinian ally Hamas in Gaza.

Much of the focus on the conflict has been the steadily increasing death toll and expansion in the scope of cross-border attacks.

But the exchanges have also seen a rise in the impact on technology. The security source said there had been an increase in cyber attacks since the conflict broke out in October, pointing to the incident at the airport.

Passenger jets arriving at Beirut's airport are having to use alternatives to GPS to help them land because of jamming and “spoofing” blamed on Israel, which risks interfering with flight navigation.

Since the onset of the Israel-Gaza war, Israel has admitted to increasing GPS jamming in the region in a bid to thwart attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.

Updated: April 17, 2024, 3:01 PM