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Israeli Authorities Challenge Claims of Voting System Breach

Israeli Authorities Challenge Claims of Voting System Breach

On Saturday, days before the Israeli general election, an anonymous Twitter user claimed that the details of 6 million Israelis have been compromised following a voting system hack

Omer Kabir | 12:38  07.04.2019
Recent claims that Israel's voting system for the upcoming election had been hacked and the personal details of 6 million Israelis have been compromised are bogus, according to Israeli government officials and cyber experts.

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On Saturday, an anonymous Twitter user claimed that the details of 6 million Israelis have been obtained following a system hack, posting as proof a screenshot of the personal details of several dozen Israelis—including name, address, ID number, and phone number. The user claimed the hack was part of an annual hacking campaign targeting Israel. The anonymous user did not post a link to the data he claimed was obtained, preventing experts from assessing his claims.

The Israeli election. Photo: Gil Nehushtanl The Israeli election. Photo: Gil Nehushtanl The Israeli election. Photo: Gil Nehushtanl

Dubbed OpIsrael, the hacking campaign has been taking place on April 7, the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day, since 2013, targeting both government and private entities.

Government officials told Calcalist on condition of anonymity that currently there are no indications of election-related systems being compromised, and that Israel's voters registry has many data points that do not appear to exist in the screenshot. While the people exposed in the photo are Israeli citizens, they said, it does not prove the information has been obtained recently.

A similar hack of Israel's population database was perpetuated in 2006 by a former government employee who copied the data and took it home, leading to it being leaked online. It was widely reported at the time.

Israeli open code activist Yuval Adam pointed out in a tweet that many of the numbers shown in the screenshot had the area code 06—canceled almost two decades ago.

If the information is indeed recent, however, it is more likely the target hacked was one of the parties running for election—of which there are 41, many without the funds for first-tier cybersecurity. All parties, as well as the central elections committee, receive a CD containing the voters registry prior to the elections.

A spokesperson for the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority told Calcalist that the issue will be investigated with all entities that received the registry, including the parties and the elections committee.

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Israel's Cyber Directorate is investigating the matter, a spokesperson for the elections committee stated, adding that as part of OpIsrael hackers always publish false information, or falsely post information from old, unrelated hacks as newly obtained information. At this point, no breaches of the voting system have been identified, the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the Cyber Directorate confirmed the matter is being investigated in collaboration with the Population and Immigration Authority. The spokesperson also stated OpIsrael hackers tend to publish misleading information regarding breaches.
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