Hamas is kind of the Myspace of terrorist groups -- it had a decent-sized heyday in the 2000s, and a lot of people forgot about it, but it's still out there in the background up to no good. Now, as we come to find out, they're catfishing Israeli soldiers. Catfishing, for those who never saw the hit MTV show, is where someone pretends to be someone else online with the intent of tricking some victim.
Well, Hamas decided to give this catfishing thing a whirl as a means to get intelligence information out of Israeli soldiers. Calling it "Operation Rebound," they started out by creating some fleshed-out social media profiles of a couple of fake women, and were mindful to cover their tracks by using photos that couldn't be found in a reverse-image search. They didn't just use bots, they had real conversations with soldiers using broken Hebrew and actual Hebrew slang. Any grammatical inconsistencies were explained away as linguistic difficulties, as these "women" had only just immigrated to Israel. They also kept conversations text-only in an era where FaceTime is as common as the air we breathe by claiming that they had speech impediments or hearing difficulties, and come on, you're not gonna call the bluff of a girl who claims to be hard of hearing. After establishing a relationship, the catfisher would send along a link to an app to download where they could share pictures, but was really just a front for Hamas to get access to these soldiers' phones. It was some pretty standard malware, and it didn't take long for the Israel Defense Forces to figure out what was going on. And while they claim no intel got out, the malware still ended up on the phones of dozens of soldiers.
Even stupider than Hamas using this as a way to gather intel on an opposing military is the fact that Israel admitted to it. They didn't just quietly release it in some statement either, they blasted it on Twitter.
They also stated that this is the third such attack, but the "most sophisticated" so far. Were the previous Hamas cyberattacks just targeted ads for boner pills and "Hot Single Women In Your Area Who Want To Meet You"? Was a Nigerian prince involved?
Ostensibly, the IDF wanted to brag about having foiled such a stupid plot, but the other takeaway here is that a bunch of their soldiers fell for it. "Don't go to weird links or download weird apps just to validate a person's existence" is one of the first things you teach 8 year olds about when using the internet, and yet, here are grown-ass adults having to worry about their national security because of it.
If this is what "cyber warfare" means in the 2020s, well, maybe this'll be what stops wars for forever. Here's hoping.