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JERUSALEM, Jan 7: Israel said on Saturday that it would respond to cyber-attacks in the same way it responds to violent “terrorist” acts, by striking back with force against hackers who threaten the Jewish state.

The message from Deputy Foreign Minister Dany Ayalon came after a self-defined “Saudi hacker” from a cabal known as “group-xp” published details of more than 6,000 Israeli credit cards online.

“It is necessary to send a message to everyone who attacks or tries to attack Israel, including in cyberspace,” Ayalon said in quotes published widely in Israeli media.

Hackers stand warned, he said, “that they are putting themselves in danger and that they will not benefit from any immunity against reprisal actions from Israel”.

Cyber-attacks amount to “terrorism that must be treated as such. In cyberspace, we have active capacities and we can hit those who try to hit us”.

Ayalon also applauded the United States for declaring that “all attacks in their cyberspace will be considered as a declaration of war and they will react as if it had been a missile attack”.

On Thursday, the Saudi hacker, who goes by the name “OxOmar”, said he had posted the details of 11,000 Israeli credit cards online, but Israel’s three major credit card companies said only 6,050 cards were affected.

Earlier in the week, 0xOmar posted a message on an Israeli sports website saying group-xp, which he described as the “greatest Saudi Arabian hacker team,” had posted details of 400,000 Israeli cards online.

After examining the details, Israel’s major credit card companies said only 14,000 valid cards had been exposed.

Israeli news website Ynet reported that an Israeli computer expert claimed to have uncovered the true identity of 0xOmar — a 19-year-old Mexican waiter called Omar Habib.—AFP