Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel Says Hamas Tried to Snare Soldiers in World Cup Cyber Trap

Israel Says Hamas Tried to Snare Soldiers in World Cup Cyber Trap

A senior intelligence officer says Tuesday Hamas initially reached out to the soldiers through Facebook, often posing as young women, and then moved the relationship over to the WhatsApp texting service.

The three Android apps, which have since been removed from the Google Play Store, were created to infect soldiers' phones with data-stealing malware and turn on cameras and microphones for live spying, Reuters quoted two Israeli military security officers as saying.

The Israeli military, which became aware of such attempts in early 2017 when a similar plot was foiled, has since increased its efforts to raise awareness among its ranks. According to the official, "It was actually a very good one". The third, Golden Cup, was filled with information about the World Cup taking place in Russian Federation.

He said a third sham app, called Golden Cup and promoted as a World Cup live scores and fixtures aid, was advertised to soldiers in Hebrew on Facebook. They were then shared links to the apps, which were uploaded to the real Google Play Store but have now been removed.

The Gaza strip-based Palestinian militant group declined to comment on the allegations.

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Once one of the apps was on the recipient's phone, officers said, the phone could be taken over to covertly take and send photographs, eavesdrop on conversations, copy stored files and pictures, and transmit location details. This time, in addition to connecting with soldiers on Facebook, he said, operatives used WhatsApp, strengthening their fake identities with Israeli phone numbers.

In a statement, the ministry said that Homeland Security Minister Gilad Erdan had provided the popular social-networking site with the names of 40 individuals linked to Hamas or Hezbollah whose accounts Israel wanted to see closed.

"Thanks to the soldiers' vigilance, Hamas' intelligence infrastructure was exposed before it caused actual security damage", army briefing notes said. Information officers are deployed across units to provide a quick response if soldiers are attacked, and the military targets soldiers with invitations to fake apps to test their awareness.

The IDF had been investigating the hack for several months, calling its operation "Broken Heart" as it claimed the fake romances failed to achieve Hamas' goal.

"Not long after the first attacker approached us, we'd already begun receiving dozens of reports from soldiers about suspicious figures and apps on social networks", Colonel A., the Head of the IDF's Information Security Department, said in a news release.

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