Defense Establishment thwarts cyberattack targeting Israeli companies

The attempted cyberattack was conducted by an international cyber group called "Lazarus” - an organization that is backed by a foreign country.

Cyber Hackers (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cyber Hackers
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s defense establishment thwarted a cyberattack that targeted Israeli defense companies on Wednesday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The cyberattack was conducted by an international cyber group called “Lazarus,” an organization that is backed by a foreign country. While the statement did not mention which foreign country was believed to be involved, cyber experts have said after the incident that the perpetrators were most likely linked to North Korea. 
An ongoing investigation has revealed that members of the group used various hacking techniques, including “social engineering” and impersonation. They targeted companies in the hi-tech sector by building fake profiles on the social-media platform LinkedIn.
The hackers impersonated CEOs and leading officials in human-resources departments and lured employees of major defense companies in Israel with tempting job offers and business opportunities. The purpose of the hacking scheme was to compromise the computers of the employees by sending corrupted files hidden as job offers and eventually gathering sensitive information.
The hackers used the official websites of several companies to try to hack their systems.
The Defense Ministry has claimed that the cyberattacks were identified in real time and were thwarted by the defense establishment’s Tech Unit, while emphasizing that no harm was done to the targeted networks.
Different sources have claimed otherwise. According to an article published in the New York Times, researchers at ClearSky said that the hackers managed to penetrate the targeted systems and probably managed to steal large amounts of classified information.
If true, this raises serious concerns, as the classified data could make its way to Iran, which is considered to be North Korea's ally.
In 2018 US federal prosecutors unmasked members of the North Korean "Lazarus" group as part of a criminal complaint that linked the group to a North Korean military intelligence unit, according to the New York Times.
The Directorate of Security has launched a joint investigation, together with the defense industries and other security bodies in order to fully understand what happened and whether any information was really compromised.
“The Directorate of Security for the Defense Establishment will continue its work in thwarting attempts to breach the networks of Israeli defense industries and any attempts to harm the technological capabilities and assets of the State of Israel,” it said.