State-sponsored hackers from Iran have targeted Israeli citizens who are believed to possess information regarding certain people of interest.
ClearSky, a cybersecurity firm based in Israel, has confirmed the attack in a detailed report.
The group of hackers refers to themselves as Charming Kitten.
In all their hacking activities, they are not after financial gains, which separates themselves from any private, self-motivated hacking groups.
In their report, ClearSky cybersecurity researchers assert that the mere fact that the group is not after financial gains confirms them as a group carrying out cyber espionage activities that could be politically motivated.
For an extended period, Charming Kitten has used different methods to lure victims into surrendering their credentials.
Reportedly, the Iran-based hackers spy on prominent individuals in and out of Iran.
ClearSky has been investigating the recent activities related to Charming Kitten all on the verge of exposing their actions.
The cybersecurity firm has gone ahead to document on their website what the group of hackers has been up to.
It is alleged that Charming Kitten has been utilizing a manufactured news outlet by the name British News Agency. This was all to trick their targets into believing the legitimacy of their website.
Charming Kitten is known to attack targets by trapping them into opening malicious code which would remotely take control of their computers.
All of this takes place without the knowledge of the legitimate owner of the device.
The hackers are believed to be mostly after human rights activists, academic researchers, members of the media and even the political advisors who are interested in Iran.
ClearSky also confirmed that Charming Kitten has been targeting victims from all over the world. This appears to be in the bid of fetching possible information about people who could oppose the Iranian government.
The firm’s report indicates targets are mostly from Iran, Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The countries affected have been concerned with the growing level of state-sponsored hackers in the name of cyberespionage.
The leaders from these countries are concerned about their privacy being interfered with in case activities are not checked and corrected.
The hackers were reported to target renowned figures in Israel including Thamar E. Gindin, a well-known author, researcher and academic. Also on the list was Eran Cicurel, a radio news presenter and editor.
The state-sponsored hackers are also believed to have attacked Israeli movie director Alon Gur Arye. All these people are found to have a connection with individuals in Iran, according to the hackers.
The ClearSky research team has stated that the primary purpose of the attack is known—Charming Kitten hackers want to acquire information regarding Iranian dissidents.
The group of hackers are ever in search of any person inside Iran who is in direct contact with the people of their concern.
It is clear that the state-sponsored hackers will not stop at anything until they accomplish their main agenda.
Officials from ClearSky have shown the direct relationship between the group of hackers with the government of Iran in their activities.
They observed that none of the hacking victims suffered any financial-related issues.
What was compromised in these attacks, however, involved their online communications with and information related to the aforementioned individuals of interest in Iran.
Once the hackers gained access to their target’s network, they would read whatever was of use and store it for reference.
It is also seen that the hackers were patient in their activities to avoid alarming the target before they accomplished their mission.
According to the report given by officials from ClearSky, the hackers left Twitter and email messages from accounts which were seen to be registered with Israel-affiliated names.
It is recorded that the hackers claimed to be journalists, political researchers and even individual citizens in order to lure their targets into believing their legitimacy.
ClearSky also noted that there are strong connections between the Charming Kitten state-sponsored group and Behzad Mesri, the hacker behind the recent HBO leak involving Game of Thrones episodes.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that Behzad Mesri is tied to a notorious Iranian hacking group popularly known as Turk Black Hat.
The group of hackers has been on the verge of hacking various websites from all over the world.
According to ClearSky, it is not the first time that Iran-based hackers have been accused of perpetrating similar malicious acts.
It was back in 2015 when a Canadian researcher from the Voice of America affirmed the same finding as seen by ClearSky.
The Iranian government has not come out clear to clear the air about the allegations made that they are sponsoring cyber attacks.
There is no plot of investigation to bring the culprits to book as it is suspected the Iranian government will protect the cybercriminals.
For now, only a matter of time will reveal what’s next for the victims compromised by Charming Kitten and if any form of punishment will be taken against the hackers.
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