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Israel’s defence ministry said hackers linked to the North Korean government attempted to gain information on military secrets. The Lazarus Group, who attempted the hack, have previously targeted US and South Korean companies.
According to the ministry, the cyber criminals attempted to gain access to Israeli defence databases by creating fake identities.
They posed as defence industry leaders, and offered high ranking Israel officials job offers on LinkedIn.
In a statement, the defence ministry claimed the cyber-attack by the Lazarus Group was averted.
They also claimed no sensitive information was revealed by the officials targeted.
The defence ministry said the hackers used various techniques “including ‘social engineering’ and impersonation” to try and gain access to defence databases.
They continued: “The attackers impersonated managers, CEOs and leading officials in HR departments, as well as representatives of international companies, and contacted employees of leading defence industries in Israel, with the aim of developing discussions and tempting them with various job opportunities.
“In the process of sending the job offers, the attackers attempted to compromise the computers of these employees, to infiltrate their networks and gather sensitive security information.”
In a concerning move, the hackers were also said to have tried to use official defence companies’ websites to “hack their systems”.
According to the ministry, the attempt was caught in real time and “no harm or disruption” was caused to the defence networks.
It was unclear how many defence officials and offices were targeted, and when the hacks took place.
But some Israeli officials were concerned that some defence information may be compromised, despite the ministry’s assurance otherwise.
Ronen Bergman, a New York Times journalist, said that defence company Clearsky believed the hacker’s viruses have penetrated deep into their networks, think it is “very likely” they have leaked out classified information.
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The Lazarus Group were blamed for the 2014 hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and were involved in laundering cryptocurrency in 2017.
Ivan Kwiatkowski, a researcher at Kaspersky, a cybersecurity company, claimed that in the alleged attack on Israel, Lazarus appeared to have attempted technology theft instead of financial gain.
He said: “This is a very interesting development, because we tend to see Lazarus as an actor focused mostly on funds collection.
“But as any other state-backed actor, its missions are diverse, and I think this is a prime example of other areas of interest the group has.”
Israel have also said they beat back another major cyber attack earlier this year.
They blamed Iran for an attack on its water infrastructure, and retaliated with an Israeli cyber attack on an Iranian port.
Israel and Iran have engaged in covert battles that included high-tech hacking and cyberattacks for years.
US and Israeli intelligence agencies have been accused of unleashing a computer worm called Stuxnet that disrupted Iran’s nuclear program.
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