Middle East

Israeli soldiers duped by Hamas 'fake women' phone ruse

Image purportedly used in Hamas honey trap Image copyright IDF
Image caption One of the fake images purportedly used by Hamas hackers

Dozens of Israeli soldiers have had their smartphones hacked by the Hamas militant group posing as women seeking attention, Israel's military says.

A spokesman said the soldiers were sent fake photos of young females and lured into downloading an app without knowing it could access their handsets.

He said there was no "significant breach of information" before the scam was foiled.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Israel view each other as mortal enemies.

It is the third such attempt in recent years by Hamas to infiltrate Israeli soldiers' phones, but was the most sophisticated yet, according to Lt Col Jonathan Conricus.

"We see that they're of course learning and upping their game," he said.

Col Conricus said the hackers had masqueraded as young women with imperfect Hebrew, claiming to be immigrants or to have visual or hearing impairments, in order to appear convincing.

After striking up friendships, the "women" would send links which they said would enable them to exchange photos, but which in reality caused the soldiers to download malware - programmes that can attack smartphones or computer devices.

Once the link was opened, the programme would install a virus which would give the hacker access to the phone's data, including location, pictures and contacts.

It could also remotely manipulate the phone, using it to take photos and recordings without the owner's knowledge.

Col Conricus said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had uncovered the plot several months ago but had let it continue under surveillance until they shut it down.

The IDF has previously warned soldiers about the need for vigilance when using smartphones and issued guidelines to try to prevent hacking attempts.

Israel and Hamas are in a permanent state of conflict and both are engaged in intelligence gathering against one another as part of their ongoing hostilities.

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