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Cyber Report 34 – July-December 2020

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Executive Summary

During the period of July-December 2020 and throughout 2020, terror activity in the cyber arena has advanced and developed. Terrorist groups are utilizing cyberspace to achieve numerous objectives and are actively working to increase their cyber skill level in the operational, defense and offense arena.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has exacerbated the presence of terrorism in cyberspace and allowed for greater opportunities for terrorist groups to commit cybercrimes and reach impressionable potential recruits. One of the main trends during the year of 2020 is the emergence of a motivated community of Far-Right extremists with mostly operational activity on the dark web (i.e. propaganda, recruitment etc.). These groups are attempting to shift from cyber space to physical activity but have not yet brought this intention to fruition. As long as this intention exists within these groups, we must not dismiss them as a potential threat. Throughout the period under review (July-December 2020), far right groups focused on US Elections, COVID-19 anti-vaccination campaigns, and mobilization to conduct lone wolf attacks.

During 2020, Global Jihadists groups continued to exploit cyberspace to the best of their abilities, such as for fundraising, propaganda, recruitment, and cyber defense. They are also actively working towards raising their cyber offence capabilities in order to transform their motivations into tangible cyber-attacks. Throughout the period under review (July-December 2020), ISIS and Al-Qaeda launched a campaign to recruit new hackers. They have also increased their use of cryptocurrency with an emphasis on using less detectible coins such as Monero. There has also been an increase of jihadi activity of social media, especially in the Idlib region.

While Global Jihadi groups are still on the run for Cyber offence capabilities, Iranian hackers have launched cyber war against Israel, USA and Western interests. Among them are a series of attacks against Israeli targets throughout 2020. Throughout the period under review (July-December 2020), a network of Iranian hackers with links to Hezbollah have been detected and traced on social network. The network claimed to have conducted cyber- attacks against Israel and US targets.

Palestinian hackers also stood out during 2020 claiming responsibility for attacks against Israelis critical infrastructure, communications sector, and Israeli citizens. Throughout the period under review (July-December 2020), the hacker group Jerusalem Electronic Army

(from Gaza) have claimed to carry out numerous cyber-attacks against Israeli targets, mainly defacement of websites.

The following report analyzes these trends over the period of July-December 2020.

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