Israeli TV gives viewers ‘helpful’ tips on how to prevent their phones being hacked

With police alleged to use spyware against citizens, Channel 12 offers guidelines by Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based firm banned in US over ties to Russian security services, hackers

Still from a Channel 12 news segment on February 7, 2022 on "how to try to protect your cellphone" from hacking. (screenshot)
Still from a Channel 12 news segment on February 7, 2022 on "how to try to protect your cellphone" from hacking. (screenshot)

With the country rattled by bombshell revelations alleging that Israel Police have illicitly used phone-hacking spyware against dozens of public officials, activists and citizens, Channel 12’s primetime news on Monday night offered some “helpful” tips to its audience on how to at least try to “avoid being hacked.”

In a short segment by its tech correspondent Ben Mittelman, the channel laid out a series of actions the average Joe and Jane can take, such as restarting their devices on a daily basis, deleting certain apps, keeping the others up-to-date and not clicking on suspicious-looking links.

It said iPhone users very concerned that they could be targeted could consider canceling the popular iMessage and FaceTime apps, which have been used in the past to access phones. It also cautioned against using popular browsers like Safari or Google’s Chrome.

However, the report noted that if an organization with the resources and access to programs like NSO’s Pegasus was intent on bugging your phone, “they will probably succeed,” no matter what you do.

Introducing the segment, Mittelman said the tips were provided by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow and operated by a holding company in the United Kingdom.

The company develops and sells antivirus, internet security, password management, endpoint security, and other cybersecurity products and services.

Since 2015, however, Kaspersky Lab has faced repeated allegations that it has engaged with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). In September 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security banned its products from all government departments. US government institutions were prohibited from buying and installing Kaspersky software on their computers and other devices.

Subsequent reports alleged that Russian hackers stole information from a contractor working with the American National Security Agency via Kaspersky antivirus software. The company denied the allegations.

Though Kaspersky Lab has worked to become more transparent with its products and their development, it is banned in several countries.

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