Israeli gay dating site Atraf victim of data blackmail

Hackers have stolen data from the Israeli LGBTQ website Atraf, also a gay dating app. They demand a ransom of one million dollars or they will disclose the proceeds of their theft.

Users of the Israeli dating site Atraf are afraid of witnessing, helplessly, the disclosure of their data. The group of hackers Black Shadow, presented as linked to Iran, claimed this Saturday, October 30 on the Telegram messenger a large-scale cyberattack: the day before, it affected the Israeli web hosting company Cyberserve, on which is Atraf, an institution in the Israeli queer community with an LGBTQ website, a dating app as well as a nightlife index.

The hackers were able to collect no less than a thousand user profiles and are now demanding a ransom of one million dollars, otherwise they will make public this data including identities, sexual orientations and even HIV status of the registrants.

Black Shadow’s Ultimatum
“You probably can’t log into many sites tonight and that’s because we’ve targeted Cyberserve and its customers. And what about the data? As usual, we have a lot of it,” boasted Black Shadow, which is no stranger to taking on Israel. The hacktivist group is openly anti-Israel, using its cybercrime skills to serve its financial interests but more importantly, an ideology.

In March, the group had hacked into KLS Capital, a finance company. It had also infiltrated the insurance company Shirbit. As with Cyberserve, Black Shadow had stolen a large amount of data and then demanded a ransom of nearly one million dollars. If he did not get satisfaction, he gradually disclosed a large part of the data. A scenario that could well be repeated because the threat hanging over Atraf intensified on Sunday. Black Shadow said on Telegram that neither the government nor Cyberserve had responded to their demands. Giving them an ultimatum of 48 hours, this Tuesday, November 2, to pay the ransom.

“I have intimate images and sexual correspondence on them and if they reach my family or my circle of friends, they can destroy me.”

“The idea of someone’s HIV status being revealed against their will is very disturbing to us,” the Israeli HIV Task Force told the Walla media. For many, this is sensitive information and their unwilling disclosure is concerning.” Users in the closet also anonymously shared their concerns with reporters: “Ever since I heard about this theft, I can’t stop thinking about it. I have intimate images and sexual correspondence on them and if they reach my family or my circle of friends, they can destroy me.”

The ransom dilemma

Cyberserve has made it known that it is working with Israel’s National Cyber Security Directorate. But Yoram Hacohen, the CEO of the Israel Internet Association, does not intend to give in to Black Shadow, Israel Hayom reports. “There is no guarantee that the information will not be released after the ransom is paid,” he argues. Worse yet, such a surrender will lead to further attacks, due to what they will perceive as an exploit.”

The attack comes days after Iran itself fell victim to a cyberattack that crippled fuel distribution across the country on Tuesday. The Iranian agency Fars immediately suspected Israel as well as the United States, notorious opponents of the Iranian regime, notes AFP.

Black Shadow further opened the ransomware to the public, claiming that “anyone” could pay. “If private users receive ransom demands,” insists Yoram Hacohen, “they should immediately alert the police and take no further action. What needs to be done now is to increase online security and privacy regulations, and provide physical and mental support to those whose information has been leaked.”

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