Israel investigates potential breach of lawmakers’ phones
Israel's security agency is investigating a potential phone breach of opposition party lawmakers, according to local media reports.
On Saturday, 15 members of the Yesh Atid political party, including the Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid, had their WhatsApp accounts temporarily blocked, sparking concerns about potential phone hacking.
The shutdown lasted for nearly three hours, and the party reported it to the security service.
“If it is not a widespread outage and just me, then I don’t have control of my WhatsApp,” said Israeli politician Meirav Ben-Ari, one of the party members, according to the Times of Israel.
Israeli media has reported that some of the impacted politicians are running in the upcoming local council elections.
This isn't the first time suspicions of phone hacking have come up in the Israeli government. In 2019, opposition politician Benny Gantz had his phone reportedly hacked by Iran and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his party of leaking the information to use in their campaign videos.
Israel's security agency said on Monday that Iran’s activity in digital space aims “to divide Israeli society and destabilize it.”
While it's still unclear whether Saturday’s incident was a hack or not, there is potential for spyware to target WhatsApp accounts.
Earlier in June, researchers discovered a new version of the Android GravityRAT spyware targeting WhatsApp backups, potentially compromising sensitive personal information.
Another Android spyware, Coverlm, steals data from communication apps such as Telegram, Signal, WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.
Israel's NSO Group, the developer of the infamous Pegasus spyware, was accused by WhatsApp of exploiting a bug in the messaging app to install spy software allowing the surveillance of 1,400 people, including journalists, human rights activists, and dissidents.
Daryna Antoniuk is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.