Hamas apps target phones, Israel says

Hamas operatives using fake profiles on social media

A new Military Intelligence operation dubbed "HeartBreaker" was launched in March to uncover the cell behind the suspicious online actions targeting IDF soldiers.

About 100 soldiers were duped into doing downloading the spyware, the IDF said, though it insisted no damage had been done to Israeli security.

Israel's military accused the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Tuesday of trying to hack the mobile phones of Israeli soldiers through a malicious World Cup score-tracking app and two bogus dating apps. Hamas also created bogus profiles with the stolen identities of young women, asking to chat on WhatsApp and interact with soldiers and later requesting them to download their Trojan Horse apps on Google Play Store. Intelligence officers said those running the fake accounts were not necessarily based in Gaza, the coastal enclave controlled by Hamas.

Once the bogus app was installed, it gained control of the phone, including the ability to share the owner's location and contact list, as well as function as a listening device and video camera. Hamas would also be able to record conversations using the phone's microphone.

However, it conceded that many soldiers had downloaded the apps.

Hundreds of IDF troops have been contacted by alleged fake profiles on social networking sites in what the military is dubbing Operation Broken Heart. IDF and Shin Bet, one of the primary components of Israel's intelligence community that is also known as the Israel Security Agency or ISA, launched a joint endeavor called Operation Hunter's Network previous year.

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Earlier detection by the IDF blocked an attempt by Hamas's cyber terrorists to lure IDF soldiers into revealing sensitive information.

Hamas militants tried to get Israeli soldiers to download fake dating apps in an attempt to hack secure information, according to military officials. All applications had between 400 to 500 downloads before being removed from the Google App store.

One of the apps, "Golden Cup", was set up last month as the World Cup soccer championship kicked off in Russian Federation, the Israeli officers said. If the soldier opens the link, a warning pops up, and they have to meet their commanding officers to debrief on online security.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has fought several wars with Israel, declined comment.

"Not long after the first attacker approached us, we'd already begun receiving dozens of reports from soldiers about suspicious figures and apps on social networks", said Colonel A., the Head of the Information Security Department.

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