Unsuccessful Telecom Hack Targeted Israeli Crypto CEOs

A cell tower in Or Yehuda.

Israel’s intelligence community has been made aware of a mysterious but failed hack that targeted about 20 Israeli cryptocurrency executives in early September, according to Haaretz.

  • Executives reportedly lost access to their Telegram and email clients and consequently had their identities stolen, in the likely SMS spoofing incident that only appears to have hit users of the telecom giant known as Partner.
  • The hackers demanded crypto payments in exchange for returning account access, but cyber intelligence firm Pandora Security told Haaretz no payments appear to have been made. 
  • It’s not clear who the hacker was or where he was based, but Pandora’s co-founder Tzahi Ganot said he suspects a criminal group with access to the SS7 network may have planned and mounted the attack from an unassigned switch, the matter is still under investigation.
  • He told Haaretz that Mossad and Shin Bet agents “were aware of the incident.” Israel considers its telecom networks to be “critical infrastructure.”
  • Partner denied any wrongdoing in a statement to Haaretz. It said hacks like this can happen to “clients of other firms as well.”

CORRECTION (10/7/20 16:11 UTC): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the likely source network of the attack and misrepresented the Israeli intelligence community’s known level of involvement.

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