ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Hackers leak ‘new’ docs from Mossad chief after wife’s ‘old’ phone said hacked

‘Open Hands’ group releases 2020 salary and tax papers allegedly belonging to David Barnea: ‘Are they sending your NEW documents to your wife’s OLD phone??’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Photos of Mossad chief David Barnea are seen in a video published on an anonymous Telegram channel, on March 16, 2022. (Screenshot)
Photos of Mossad chief David Barnea are seen in a video published on an anonymous Telegram channel, on March 16, 2022. (Screenshot)

An anonymous Telegram channel released further documents that allegedly belong to Mossad chief David Barnea, days after publishing a video with other personal information and photos.

According to unsourced Hebrew-language media reports this week, an old phone belonging to Barnea’s wife was hacked by the group, which has been ostensibly tied to Iran. Reports said there was no sensitive information on the phone that could potentially harm state security.

On Saturday, the “Open Hands” channel released Barnea’s wage and tax papers from 2020, alleging that the information was “new.”

“It seems that the director of the Mossad’s wage bill can be found in his wife’s ‘OLD PHONE’! Mr. Bernea [sic], are they sending your NEW documents to your wife’s OLD phone?? Are you sure that the leakage is just from your wife’s ‘OLD PHONE’?” the group said in a message on Telegram.

The documents showed Barnea’s Form 106, an annual statement of salary and tax information from his employer, the Prime Minister’s Office.

There was no immediate comment from the PMO on the new documents.

On Wednesday, Open Hands published a video that showed several personal photos, flight tickets under Barnea’s name, his ID card, tax documents addressed to his wife and satellite imagery of what it claimed was his private home in the central city of Hod Hasharon.

A clip of Barnea making silly faces, apparently during a private video chat, is also seen in the video.

The group claimed it began its surveillance operation against Barnea by breaking into the database of the city’s local library. It was not immediately clear this information was used to gather the data on Barnea.

The PMO stated Wednesday on the Mossad’s behalf that Barnea’s phone was not hacked and the “materials in question are old,” without elaborating further.

Open Hands did not say where it was from, but some Hebrew-language media reports were quick to point the finger at Iran. Nour News, a website linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, also published details of the leak.

It was not the first time alleged Iranian hackers have published stolen personal information on targets.

An Iranian-linked hacking group, Black Shadow, targeted an Israeli hosting company last year, temporarily shutting down a number of websites and stealing user data from “Atraf,” an Israeli LGBT dating site. It later published some of the data.

Black Shadow also stole a vast trove of information from Israeli insurance company Shirbit in 2020 and then sold it on the dark web when the firm refused to pay a ransom.

Israel and Iran have for years been involved in a largely quiet cyberwar, which occasionally bubbles to the surface.

On Monday evening, Israeli government websites were downed for over an hour due to a major cyberattack, which has also been ostensibly tied to Iran by media reports.

Israeli officials have previously accused Iran of attempting to hack Israel’s water system in 2020.

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