Hamas Hacked Hundreds of Israeli Soldiers' Phones Using Fake Social Media Accounts

Hamas gained control over soldiers' phones via link which automatically downloaded an app to their device, enabling the group to acquire the precise location of the phone and record audio using its microphone

Yaniv Kubovich
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IDF soldiers participating in a computer course, 2018.
IDF soldiers participating in a computer course, 2018.Credit: IDF spokesperson
Yaniv Kubovich

Hamas hacked the smartphones of hundreds of Israel Defense Forces soldiers and officers, collecting information and recording conversations with soldiers over the last several months, an IDF spokesperson said Sunday.

The IDF said it is not aware of any classified information being leaked to Hamas. Following the discovery of the hacking operation, the IDF and the Shin Bet succeeded in disrupting the organization's activity.  

Hamas turned to soldiers and officers – some of them in combat roles – via fake social media accounts ostensibly belonging to new female immigrants with a low level of Hebrew. The display photos for the fake profiles were deliberately enticing.

During social media conversations the soldiers were sent a link which automatically downloaded an app to the soldier's device, which, when clicked on, gave Hamas control over the cellphone without the soldiers' knowledge. This enabled the organization to acquire all the information on the phone, including its precise location, and to record what was being said in the vicinity of the phone.

The spokesperson said that the Hamas cyberattack was discovered thanks to the alertness of several soldiers and to technological means used by the IDF. In recent years, the army and the Shin Bet conducted an operation to locate and disrupt servers used by Hamas used for similar purposes.

The Israeli army is currently calling on soldiers who received alerts from the fake accounts to check in their phones. It remains unclear whether some of the soldiers who received the app work closely with senior officers.

The IDF confirmed to Haaretz that they are not aware of the individuals in the photos, whether they are Israeli citizens or soldiers, nor did they get permission from the individuals to further publicize their images.

Hamas has used similar means to gain access to soldiers' phones in the past, according to the IDF. A similar incident occurred in 2018 Hamas hacked hundreds of soldiers' cellphones.

In some instances, members of the organization acquired all the contents of a phone, including photos, phone numbers and email addresses. At times, Hamas activists were able to control the camera and loudspeaker of the devices, thus recording what was happening on IDF bases, including bases on the Gaza border.

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