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Hacktivists send fake nuclear attack warning via Israeli Red Alert app


October 10, 2023

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Hacktivists send fake nuclear attack warning via Israeli Red Alert app

Hackers have exploited a flaw in a widely-used app that warns of missile attacks against Israel to send a fake alert that a nuclear strike is imminent.

The AnonGhost hacktivist group said on its Telegram channel that it had managed to breach the "Red Alert" app to send a warning that "The Nuclear Bomb is coming" and distribute notifications saying "death to Israel."

Some of the fake alerts were accompanied by a swastika.

According to security researchers, the hackers found a way to exploit a weakness in an API used by Red Alert, in order to spam out their own messages to users of the app. The hackers also claimed that their attack left users' phones "disconnected from the internet" and that users' devices were left "broken" and would have to be replaced by a new phone - although this appears unlikely to be accurate.

Bogus missile alert notifications are no laughing matter, of course, particularly for Israeli citizens are reeling in the wake of a major attack on their country by Hamas.

A few years ago we saw the hysteria caused when residents of Hawaii received an emergency alert on their phones about a missile heading in their direction and urging to take immediate shelter. That, of course, turned out to be a false alarm caused by dreadful user interface design.

The "Red Alert: Israel" app, developed initially by Kobi Snir over ten years ago following shelling from the Gaza Strip to provide real-time missile warnings, has been downloaded over a million times by Android and iOS users.  The app is, understandably, particularly popular in Israel, helping it to currently rank as the 15th most popular of all apps on the iOS App Store.

Posting on Telegram, AnonGhost hacktivist group said that it would "never remain silent".

In other news, the website of the Jerusalem Post was knocked offline for a period of time on Monday morning after suffering what it described as "an ongoing cyberattack."

In a separate incident, the pro-Russian KillNet cybercrime gang which has previous targeted the US Treasury, US airlines, internet services in Crimea, and even the Eurovision Song Contest, amongst many others, appeared to have defaced the official website of the Israeli government.

The current conflict between Israel and Hamas has clearly spilled out into the digital realm - if only it would stay there rather than put thousands of innocent lives in peril.




Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, researcher and public speaker. He has been working in the computer security industry since the early 1990s.

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