Hamas Hackers Use New Malware

A series of Hamas-orchestrated cyber-attacks targeting Palestinian Authority officials has been identified  by the experts at CybereasonThe Hamas hacking unit, is a well orgnaised cell that has acted against various targets across the Middle East has been identifies using new malware in a campaign against the UN - recognised Palestinian Authority. The method uses phishing emails on enticing topics, typically ranging from the US killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani to the Trump administration’s, Middle East, peace proposal.

Once the targets are identified, the Hamas unit would hack into the victims' mobile phones, gaining access to their microphones and cameras as well as files and information stored on the devices. Cyberreason researchers say that spyware is deployed with extremely advanced technology, previously only available in Russia, China, the US and Israel.

The attacks were carried out in a similar way to previous attacks the unit committed against Israeli strategic assets. This hacking unit is a politically-motivated cell that has acted against various targets across the Middle East since 2012. The hackers most recently weeks attempted to breach carefully selected targets associated with the Palestinian Authority government.  Many of the malware samples analysed appear to have targeted Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank and a longtime rival of Hamas.

It is unclear how the group was using the information it gathered on Fatah, but it’s just the latest example of geopolitical rivalries taking on a cyber dimension.

Cybereason reseaerchers think that the Hamas have  grown more sophisticated, developing some of their own tools and acquiring others in the process. Theere is also  larger group of  of hackers known as the Gaza Cybergang that some security companies have linked with Hamas. The Cybergang consists of multiple subgroups that have overlapping tools and targets, complicating analysts’ efforts to distinguish the hacking campaigns and definitively trace them to their source.

The attackers are using new malicious code, commonly referred to as backdoors, that allow them persistent access to their targets. The remote access Trojan has Ukrainian language embedded in it, raising the possibility that the Arabic-speaking group acquired the tool on an underground forum.

The Gaza Cybergang has been exploiting current events for years to break into computer networks in Israel and the Palestinian territories, at one point even posing as a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Given how effective the tactic has been, the group has every reason to keep doing so.

In the latest activity, the hacking group uses PDF file purporting to be a report from a popular Egyptian newspaper mentioning the leader of Hamas attending Soleimani’s funeral. Once opened, the PDF eventually drops its malicious code in two different places on the victim’s operating system. The code doesn’t run unless Arabic language keyboard settings are found on the machine.

CyberScoop:       Jerusalem Post:        Israel Hayom:        YNet news

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