The IDF and Shin Bet announced on Wednesday that they uncovered a Hamas spy network which gained access to sensitive army information and intelligence through the cell phones of IDF soldiers, mostly in combat units.
Following reports from a number of soldiers of suspicious online activities, a joint IDF and Shin Bet operation was launched to detect and identify accounts which were run by Hamas operatives.
Lasting several months, “Operation Hunter’s Network” identified dozens of accounts on social networks, which operated with false or stolen identities with the intent to extract classified information from both regular and reserve IDF soldiers.
“Wherever the phone was, so was the enemy,” a senior IDF official said. Overall, some “dozens” of soldiers, including a major, were compromised, but the threat posed was minimal and the plot has been considered foiled.
“There is, of course, a potential of serious harm to national security, but the damage that was actually done was minor,” he said, adding that “anyone who was infected, is not infected anymore.”
According to the senior officer, the compromised phones were reformatted in order to prevent any further hacking.
Following the operation, the IDF concluded that the army must raise awareness about the risk of social networks and adopt stricter guidelines in order prevent terrorists from hacking into the IDF in the future.
Among the steps the military has taken is broadening restrictions on the use of social media by enlisted soldiers; for example, soldiers with the rank of Major and above will be prohibited from uploading any pictures showing themselves in uniform or publishing that they are part of the IDF. Currently such restrictions only apply to Lieutenant Colonel and above.
The IDF will also educate every soldier, especially combat soldiers, on the sensitivity and threat posed by posts or pictures uploaded to social networks and will also create a body which would operate 24/7 to collect and investigate all reports of suspicious online activity.