IDF network reportedly infiltrated by hackers

Unclear if cyberattack purportedly carried out by Arabic speakers compromised sensitive data; military official denies report

An IDF C4I Corps soldier monitors for hacker activity (Photo credit: Courtesy)
An IDF C4I Corps soldier monitors for hacker activity (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Hackers managed to infiltrate and compromise the IDF’s computer network with malicious spyware, Reuters reported on Friday.

The hackers, believed to be from the Arabic-speaking world, claimed to pull off the attack by confusing system operators with trick emails, according to experts at Blue Coat, a company specializing in high-level cyber security.

Military officials said that they were “not aware of hacking on IDF operational networks.” An unidentified senior member of the IDF speaking with Channel 2 denied the report.

Waylon Grange, a Blue Coat analyst credited with discovering the purported security breach, said that hackers used existing code from other viruses to gain access to the network and engage in a four-month espionage campaign.

Sending emails with attachments said to contain breaking military news and, in some instances, a video clip titled “Girls of the Israel Defense Forces,” hackers reportedly breached the military’s advanced computer systems and set up “back door” devices allowing infiltrators to download and operate supplementary programs.

A draft report filed by the cyber security firm said the tools used by the hackers weren’t particularly sophisticated, and that the attack was likely conducted by Arabic speakers after discovering that Arabic was set as the default language setting in one of the programming tools.

“As regional conflicts continue, cyber threats from groups of various skill levels will also accompany the conventional armed conflicts,” a report by the security firm read.

Due to Blue Coat’s confidentiality agreement with its clients, Grange was unable to reveal which networks were breached by the virus; he said he was unaware if the hackers were able to steal vital information.

If the report is true, this is not the first time institutions within the Jewish state have been successfully compromised.

In February, a separate cyber security firm discovered the existence of a highly advanced Arabic-speaking hacking group operating from Egypt, Turkey and the Palestinian territories.

The group, dubbed the “Desert Falcons,” targeted thousands of people in 50 countries, focusing their efforts on military, government, media, and activist computers.

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