Iranian group hacks biggest Israeli LGBTQ dating site; hackers threaten to expose personal data of LGBTQ people

After compromising the operations of multiple companies, Iranian hacking group Black Shadow posted a message threatening to expose the confidential details of users of a popular dating website for the LGBTQ community in Israel. The hackers demand a ransom of $1 million USD in exchange for not revealing the compromised information.

The hackers managed to compromise Atraf, the website in question, after attacking Internet services firm CyberServe; this company provides its services to all kinds of public and private organizations. The incident was detected over the weekend, when Black Shadow revealed thousands of confidential records, including around 1,000 Atraf user profiles with private details such as user HIV status and sexual orientation.

In this regard, the Association for LGBTQ Equality of Israel mentioned that they would extend their hours of attention to emergencies in order to support potentially affected people. It should be noted that this would put people at severe privacy risk, as in many cases people ignore their sexual preferences and some health conditions.

On the other hand, a representative of the Israel National Cyber Directorate noted that, during the last few months, the affected company received multiple security alerts due to its propensity to suffer cyberattacks. The company has not added details about it, noting only that over the weekend they had experienced a case of “Iranian cyber terrorism.”

Ohad Zaidenberg, a cybersecurity specialist, believes that this incident could be related to the attack on the Israeli insurer Shirbit, which occurred in December 2020, which has also been linked to the attack on the insurer KLS Capital Ltd: “It is known that the attack on Shirbit was perpetrated by hackers sponsored by the government of Iran, so a link between these incidents should not be ruled out.”

Both countries have been involved in what experts call shadow war, a series of intelligence and espionage tactics that includes the use of cyberwarfare, attacks on ships on both sides and other espionage tactics. Some specialists fear that, eventually, these activities will escalate to a point where military troops from both countries begin to intervene in the opposite territory.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.