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Palestinian Hackers Use Porn in Cyberattack

A group of hackers from Gaza used pornographic videos in a wide-scale cyberattack on several Israeli institutions and individuals.

A report titled Operation Arid Viper: Bypassing the Iron Dome released Monday by the cyber security company Trend Micro detailed the hacking campaign carried out by the tech workers from Gaza. The report called the strategy of using pornographic videos “distinct” and “previously unseen.”

The hackers sent individuals a “phishing” email with a “pornographic movie” meant to embarrass targets into ignoring the cyber infiltration, the report said.

Trend Micro described the process through an actual example:

“[A]n employee in an Israeli government receives and opens a highly targeted phishing email. A pornographic movie starts to play on his screen, which he hurriedly closes before any of his colleagues notice. … Minutes later, an attacker from somewhere in the Gaza Strip in Palestine gets notified that a new victim’s system has been successfully infected.”

According to Trend Micro, Operation Arid Viper targeted a government office, transportation service providers, a military organization and an academic institution in Israel, as well as an academic institution in Kuwait and several unidentified Israeli individuals.

Trend Micro identified three men with “some apparent connection” to Operation Arid Viper: Khalid Samra, Ahmed Jmal and Mahmoud Hashem. One of the reasons for their success, the report said, was that they launched their attacks from outside Gaza. The attacks originated in Germany, which is not on an Israeli Internet service provider “ban list.”

The report followed a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the National Cyber Bureau, Israel’s cyber protection agency, will be “upgraded” to the National Cyber Authority. As an authority, the organization will receive more funding and be given more influence over public policy, The Times of Israel reported.

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