Hackers stole information from former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak’s computer and phone months ago and sold it to Iran, according to multiple news outlets, citing a TV report by Israel’s Channel 12 this past weekend.
The news reportedly broke several days after a separate Channel 12 story that said Iranian intelligence directly hacked the cell phone of Benny Gantz, former Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, who is currently running for prime minister against incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu.
The newer of the two reports said Barak was informed of the hack last July by Nadav Argaman, head of Israel’s intelligence agency Shin Bet, and warned it could be part of a larger attempt to target important Israelis overseas. Reportedly, the breach was not caused by negligence and not sensitive materials were stolen.
The previous report states that Shin Bet officials informed Gantz about five weeks ago that he was hacked sometime after he entered the political fray in December 2018 when he founded the Hosen L’Yisrael party, which later joined two other parties to become the Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) political alliance.
Gantz and his Kachol Lavan have reportedly confirmed that a hack occurred, but denied that Iran is in possession of sensitive information that could be used to extort him should be become Israel’s new leader. Indeed, they have suggested that such rumors are merely spin from Gantz’s political rivals, and a few officials have reportedly even suggested that Iran may not actually be responsible for the hack.
“We don’t comment on issues that are at the heart of state security,” reportedly read a statement from Kachol Lavan. “It is important to emphasize that this incident happened four years after Gantz finished his tenure as chief of staff, [a fact] that raises many questions regarding the timing of the report’s publication.”
Barak himself reportedly defended Gantz, tweeting “There is nothing sensitive relating to the security of the state. Iranian hacking? Not sure. More likely — regular phishing from a pool of millions of names.”