Ministry of Social Affairs Hacked in Third Cybersecurity Attack this Month

On the morning of Monday January 22, a cyberattack targeted the website of Lebanon’s caretaker Ministry of Social Affairs. A spokesperson at the Ministry announced that the website was hacked, and was completely inaccessible to users around 10:30 am.

The spokesperson explained that efforts are underway to resolve the issue and clarified that the website does not contain any personal information about the beneficiaries of the ministry’s programs.

This is not the first time that Lebanese public institutions were targeted by cyberattacks in the last few weeks.

On Sunday, the Lebanese Parliament’s website was also targeted by a cyberattack of an unknown origin. The website appeared to be functioning normally as of the early hours of Monday, January 22.

On January 7, the Beirut International Airport was also targeted by a cyberattack in which a message critical of Hezbollah was displayed on the airport’s screens, under the signature of the right-wing extremist group Jnoud l Rab. The cyberattack also caused baggage carousels to malfunction and reportedly led to several passengers receiving fake messages from Middle East Airlines, Lebanon’s flag carrier.

An Unknown Source

The repeated cyberattacks point to concerning directions for the country’s security landscape. Jnoub l Rab announced that they were not responsible for the cyberattack at the airport, with many suggesting the attack was done by Israeli forces or intelligence agencies.

In December 2023, Hezbollah called on residents of the south to turn off the cameras outside of their homes or shops due to Israel’s attempts to hack them and monitor the group’s movements.

A few weeks later, the group announced that Israeli intelligence had resorted to making phone calls to residents of the south from unknown numbers, under the pretense that they are security forces trying to obtain information on Hezbollah’s movements in the south.

As the conflict expands in scope, cybersecurity is an area of vital importance for Lebanon’s security, especially given its history of being a ground for spies and Israeli intelligence, mainly the Mossad.

Earlier in the year, an Israeli drone strike assassinated the deputy of Hamas’s political office in Lebanon, an operation that many suggested was made possible due to espionage and intelligence superiority, especially at a digital level.

With the fighting becoming increasingly regionalized and Israeli insistence on continuing conflict expansion, prospects for Lebanese residents remain dangerously grim.

Pressures from actors around the world to de-escalate and avoid the further engulfment of Lebanon in the war have hitherto been useless. 

Israeli authorities have chosen not to give in to calls for a ceasefire, nor have they shown any signs of allowing Palestinians their right to self-determination and freedom as they continue their genocidal campaign, killing at least 25,105 people since October 7 and putting the lives of around 2 million Palestinians in catastrophically precarious conditions.