Hamas hacked into hundreds of smartphones of Israeli soldiers using fake dating and World Cup apps in order to gain sensitive information about the Israeli military and bases around the Gaza strip.

The IDF’s Military Intelligence conducted an investigation which found that the 11 Hamas operatives (three approached soldiers on WhatsApp, eight approached soldiers on Facebook) were an intelligence network of the Hamas terrorist organization which asked the soldiers to download applications which compromised their cell phones with Trojan horse viruses.

The apps allowed malicious software controlled by Hamas to be planted into Android smartphones, enabling militants in the Strip to access pictures, phone numbers and email addresses of soldiers posted close to the border, and even allowed Hamas to control the phones’ cameras and microphones remotely.

In a number of cases, Hamas has been able to film what was happening on Israel Defense Forces bases without the soldiers being aware their phones had been hacked. Beginning in January 2018, the military’s information security department has received complaints from soldiers and commanders about attempts by suspicious people on social networks recommending soldiers to download apps from the official Google Play Store. Soldiers who downloaded the app immediately gave Hamas access to all the information on their phone.

The military began examining these apps and swiftly discovered that Hamas was behind them, and that it was operating fake Facebook profiles to build trust with soldiers since 2017 to get the soldiers to download the apps.

The operation by the unit responsible for information security was dubbed “operation broken heart.”

Hamas also used a fitness app to identify the phone numbers of soldiers who went jogging near the Gaza border. The minute Hamas had these numbers, it began sending the soldiers, and others, requests to download their “Trojan Horse” apps.

Both male and female soldiers were approached with these tactics, while most soldiers immediately informed their commanders, several did not. It was learned that the female soldiers were quicker to cut off communications with the Hamas operatives than the men.

Despite this, the apps in question remain online.

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