Turkish Hacktivists Project Anti-Israel Messages in Cinema
In the latest act of international hacktivism, a group by the name of MeshSec managed to insert political messages about the ongoing war in Gaza onto digital signage at Lev Cinemas in Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s most popular movie theaters. The message, written in imperfect Hebrew, conveyed disdain for the Jewish people, calling them “stupid,” “cowards,” and accusing them of being “terrorist killers” responsible for the deaths of innocent children in Gaza.
This incident is not an isolated one. MeshSec’s attack is just the most recent in a series of hacktivist invasions of Israeli public spaces that have been occurring since October 7, 2022. This surge of psychologically-oriented hacktivism has been spreading political propaganda and anti-Israel messages throughout the region.
Hacking into digital billboards, it has been revealed, is not too dissimilar from hacking into any other corporate IT resource. Gil Messing, the chief of staff at Check Point Software, explains that hackers exploit exposed internet connections with default or no password protection to gain access to the management panels that control the content displayed on these screens. Once inside, they can alter the content to display anything they desire.
The simplicity of the attack was matched by the simplicity of the fix. CEO of Lev Cinemas stated that the hackers exploited an external system used to update screens and trailers, and although they were able to display their messages for a brief period, they were removed within minutes, and the issue was promptly resolved.
What makes this type of hacktivism particularly impactful is its potential to spread political messaging to civilians in public spaces. For example, the Lev Cinemas theater is part of the Dizengoff center mall in Tel Aviv, a high-traffic area at the heart of the city. It’s evident that the ramifications of these attacks extend beyond mere inconvenience.
The hacktivist group, MeshSec, acting as a voice for those opposing Israel’s actions, advocated against the Israeli government’s military response in Gaza. They reached ordinary citizens with their propaganda that would have otherwise gone unnoticed on social media platforms or news outlets. This phenomenon highlights the impact and reach that digital attacks can have in spreading political messages.
Additionally, these acts have been part of a broader trend of psychological warfare spreading through the targeted cyberattacks on Israel’s various public and private industries in recent months. Such attacks are designed to spread fear and create uncertainty among the general population.
This type of psychological warfare is a common characteristic of modern-day cyber activities. While the attacks may not have a physical impact, their goal is to create a sense of fear among the populace. As the cyber realm becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, such incidents underscore the potential reach and impact of hacktivism.