Israeli soldiers tricked into installing malware by Hamas

Phone malware
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dozens of Israeli soldiers have fallen victim to a hacking scheme orchestrated by the Hamas militant group which infected their smartphones with malware.

A spokesperson for Israel's military revealed that the soldiers were sent fake photos of young women in an effort to lure them to download an app that could access their devices without their knowledge. 

Thankfully though, there was no “significant breach of information” before the scam was discovered.

According to Israel's Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, this was the third attempt in recent years by Hamas to infiltrate the smartphones of Israeli soldiers and it was also the most sophisticated yet.

Honey trap

Hamas' latest scheme began with hackers pretending to be young women with imperfect Hebrew online. To appear convincing though, the hackers claimed to be immigrants or to have visual or hearing impairments.

Once they became friendly with the soldiers, the 'women' would then send them links which they said would allow them to exchange photos. However, clicking on the links actually downloaded malware on to their smartphones.

The malware then gave the hackers access to all of the data on the soldiers' smartphones including their location, pictures and contacts. It even allowed the smartphones to be remotely manipulated which let the attackers take photos and video recordings without the soldiers' knowledge.

The Israel Defense Forces uncovered Hamas' plot several months ago but according to Conricus, they let it continue under surveillance until the operation was eventually shut down.


Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.