Russia supplied Iran with advanced phone hacking tech — Israel TV report
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Russia supplied Iran with advanced phone hacking tech — Israel TV report

So-called ‘zero-click’ technology allows hackers to access victims’ data without any action by the target; newspaper says it was used to hack Gantz’s phone

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 28, 2017. (Sergei Karpukhin/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 28, 2017. (Sergei Karpukhin/AFP)

Russia recently supplied Iran with advanced technology that allows remote hacking of cellphones without the victim taking any action, Channel 12 news reported Saturday.

Currently, most phone hacking relies on Trojan horse malware that downloads itself and infects the device after the user is baited to click a link or open a file.

The report, citing cyber experts, said the so-called zero-click technology allows hostile hackers to quietly access sensitive systems, without any interaction by the user.

The report came three days after news broke that Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz’s cellphone was hacked by Iran.

Yaniv Balmas, head of cyber research at Check Point Software Technologies, told the Globes newspaper on Saturday that it seemed Gantz’s phone was hacked “with a zero-click type attack.”

In such attacks, he said, “it’s enough for the attacker to know the target’s phone number. If, for instance, the attacker knows the target uses an iPhone, and he knows of a vulnerability in a specific component of the iPhone’s cellular modem… it’s enough to send a text to the phone in order to gain control of it.”

Channel 12 news first reported Thursday that Gantz, a former military chief, was approached five weeks ago by officials from the Shin Bet security service who informed him that his personal phone had been hacked by Iran following his formal entry into politics in December.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, southern Israel on March 15, 2019. (Flash90)

The Shin Bet agents reportedly told Gantz that hackers in Tehran got hold of his personal details and text messages and that he should assume that any sensitive information in the phone could be used against him in the future. They told him to proceed as he saw fit.

Blue and White, and Gantz himself, have stressed no sensitive information was on the phone and noted it was hacked four years after he retired as army chief of staff.

In January, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman warned that a foreign state “intends to intervene” in Israel’s upcoming elections on April 9.

Though the comments were made in a public forum, the military censor placed a gag order on much of what Argaman said.

Days later, Russia said it was not planning to interfere in the polling, with a Kremlin spokesman saying Moscow “has never interfered in elections in any country.”

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