The IDF acknowledged that the hacking attempts showed Hamas was getting more sophisticated in its efforts to infiltrate soldiers’ phones.
Rome – The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has announced that the Palestinian group Hamas managed to hack hundreds of IDF soldiers’ phones after posing as attractive young women on social media networks.
The IDF said on Sunday, February 16, that it had thwarted the security breach and that the attack caused “no security damage.”
Using fake profiles with pictures of young women, Hamas operatives sent messages and pictures to IDF soldiers, luring them into downloading one of three malware apps disguised as dating apps.
The operatives used fake profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Telegram.
When soldiers downloaded one of the dating apps—GrixyApp, ZatuApp, and Catch & See—the app would gain access to their phones.
The malware app could not only download the phones’ pictures and contacts, it could also operate the microphone and camera, putting anything within the phones’ view at risk of a security breach.
The phones did not display the malware apps because they never appeared to download in the first place. “Once the application is installed and executed, it shows an error message stating that the device is not supported, and the app will uninstall itself – which actually does not happen, and the app only hides its icon,” explained Checkpoint, a cyber security firm.
A Checkpoint researcher told Forbes “Some victims … even stated they were in contact, unknowingly, with the Hamas operator for a year.”
In an operation called “Rebound,” the IDF and Israeli intelligence Shin Bet tracked the hacking attempts and brought them to an end.
Hamas created fake social media profiles, using photos including this one, in an attempt to hack the phones of IDF soldiers.
What Hamas didn’t know was that Israeli intelligence caught onto their plot, tracked the malware & downed Hamas’ hacking system.#CatfishCaught
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) February 16, 2020
The IDF acknowledged that the hacking attempts showed Hamas was getting more sophisticated in its efforts to get into soldiers’ phones.
Twice before, Hamas has set up malware apps to get data from Israeli soldiers’ phones. In a 2018 hacking attempt, Hamas created a fake World Cup app scoring app called Golden Cup as well as a dating app.