A group of Israeli hackers interfered in elections around the world, according to the media

A group of Israeli hackers interfered in elections around the world, according to the media

According to the media, a group of Israeli hackers interfered in the elections throughout m the world

Computer – notebook – laptop – keyboard – internet – illustration photo.

Tel Aviv – A group of journalists from several global media have exposed a team of Israeli contractors who claim to have manipulated more than 30 electoral processes around the world using hacking attacks, sabotage and automated disinformation on social networks. At the same time, they were paid generously for their services. Today, among others, the news website of the British newspaper The Guardian informs about it.

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The consortium of journalists who revealed the team includes reporters from 30 media outlets including France's Le Monde, Germany's Der Spiegel, of the Spanish El País or the Israeli daily Haarec.The project, which is part of a wider investigation into the disinformation industry, was coordinated by the French non-profit organization Forbidden Stories, which aims to continue the work of murdered, threatened or imprisoned reporters.< /p>

The group the reporters uncovered is led by 50-year-old Tal Hanan, a former member of the Israeli special forces who now works privately and uses the pseudonym Jorge. It has apparently been secretly interfering in elections in various countries for more than 20 years, writes The Guardian.

Hanan and his associates, who go by the name Team Jorge, are incriminated by covert footage and documents published by The Guardian, according to the press. Hanan did not respond to detailed questions about the group's activities. However, he denied any wrongdoing.

Team Jorge, according to The Guardian, runs a private service that offers covert election meddling that leaves no trace. The group also has business clients.

Hanan told reporters undercover that his services are available to news agencies, political campaigns and private companies seeking to covertly manipulate public opinion. According to him, they were used in Africa, South and Central America, the USA and Europe.

The footage of the meetings, which took place between July and December last year, was secretly taken by three reporters from TheMarker, Radio France and Haarec media posing as consultants working for the politically unstable African country. The negotiations were conducted by video call and there was also a face-to-face meeting in an unmarked office in an industrial area about 30 kilometers from Tel Aviv.

One of the key services of the Team Jorge group is the sophisticated software package Advanced Impact Media Solutions, or Aims. He controls thousands of fake profiles on the social networks Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Telegram, Instagram and YouTube and the email service Gmail. In some cases, he also has profiles on Amazon or Airbnb. In more than six hours of secretly recorded meetings, Hanan and his team discussed how they could gather intelligence on competitors, including by hacking Gmail and Telegram accounts. They boasted about feeding legitimate news sites material that was then distributed by Aims' fake profile management software. Their strategy appears to have focused mainly on disrupting or sabotaging rival campaigns: the team even claimed to have Amazon deliver a sex toy to a politician's home to make his wife think he was having an affair.

The team, according to Hanan, includes “graduates of government agencies” with experience in finance, social media and campaigns, as well as “psychological warfare,” and operates in six offices around the world. Four of Hanan's colleagues attended the meetings, including his brother Zohar Hanan, who was named the group's chief executive.

In his opening pitch to potential clients, Hanan claimed he had a team in both Greece and the United Arab Emirates and that the group had been involved in 33 presidential campaigns, 27 of which were successful. He later also stated that he was involved in two “major projects” in the US, but claimed that he was not directly involved in US politics. He suggested to reporters that some of his hacking methods exploit vulnerabilities in the SS7 global signaling telecommunications system. For decades, experts have considered this to be a weak spot in the telecommunications network.

Team Jorge told reporters undercover that it accepts payments in a variety of forms, including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and cash. He claimed that he charges six to 15 million dollars (132.6 to 331.5 million CZK) for the order. However, the leaked e-mails show that Hanan had in the past asked for much more modest fees. One of them suggests that in 2015 he claimed $160,000 from the now-defunct British consulting company Cambridge Analytica for participating in an eight-week campaign in one Latin American country. In 2017, Hanan applied again for a job with Cambridge Analytica, this time in Kenya, but the consultancy turned him down, saying that “$400,000-$600,000 a month and significantly more for crisis response” was more than its clients were willing to pay. There is no evidence that any of these campaigns took place. However, other leaked documents reveal that when Team Jorge secretly worked on the Nigerian presidential race in 2015, it did so together with Cambridge Analytica, writes The Guardian.

The findings, according to the Israeli newspaper Haarec, also raise questions about Britanna Kaiser's testimony in front of the British Parliament in 2018 in connection with the scandal surrounding the Cambridge Analytica company. At the time, Kaiser did indeed help expose the dubious methods used by this British political consulting firm, but when asked if she knew the identity of certain Israeli hackers that she introduced to her employers and who Cambridge Analytica provided the hacked materials, she replied that she “doesn't remember”. According to Haaretz, the hackers in question are the group led by Hanan, according to the obtained e-mails.