The military says it has uncovered a plot by Hamas activists to spy on soldiers by befriending them on social media and then luring them into downloading fake dating applications that give Hamas access to their smartphones.
A senior intelligence officer says Hamas initially reached out to the soldiers through Facebook, often posing as young women, and then moved the relationship over to the WhatsApp texting service. Following dozens of reports from soldiers receiving unusual messages, the military launched operation “Broken Heart.”
The military says it has uncovered three Hamas-operated apps on Google Play that have been downloaded about 100 times by soldiers since the beginning of the year.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military regulations, says the Hamas cyber efforts to snoop on soldiers are nothing new. But its methods of infecting phones with malicious applications were a significant upgrade since they could seize control of a phone’s contents, potentially acquiring classified information or compromising images that could be used to blackmail soldiers.
The military says the first two apps were called Glancelove and Winkchat, supposed dating apps. The third, Golden Cup, was filled with information about the World Cup taking place in Russia.
The photos belonged to real women whose photos and personal details were stolen from their Facebook profiles. Some were scantily clad and kissing each other. Conversations were conducted in everyday Hebrew from Israeli mobile numbers and the military said those operating the accounts were not necessarily based in Gaza.
The official said no damage was done, thanks to newly enacted guidelines for military mobile phone use.
“Once again Hamas tried to fool our soldiers on social networks. Once again Hamas failed,” the officer says, in a briefing to reporters at military headquarters.
Hamas has no immediate comment.