The Clear Sky cybersecurity firm revealed Thursday that Iran had created three websites to spread 'fake news' in Israel.
Two of the websites used in the campaign display content in Arabic, while the third, which was named by Clear Sky as the Tel Aviv Times, displays content in Hebrew. According to Clear Sky, the Hebrew site serves as a news site while the Arabic sites promote Iran's image.
The sites are part of a worldwide disinformation infrastructure that has been established by Iran in recent years and includes over 100 news sites and active media in 24 countries and in 29 languages. Hundreds of social media profiles were created to support and draw attention to these sites, according to Clear Sky.
The cybersecurity firm that the fake news sites directed at the Israeli population operated in a manner similar to other Iranian fake news sites around the world. The phishing system works through the theft of articles from legitimate news sites all over the world, including Israel, changing the content of some of the information in critical areas, and adding fake and invented information to otherwise factual news stories.
The infrastructure for Israel is supported by 14 fake profiles on Facebook and 11 fake profiles on Twitter, all of which are still active, including Facebook pages with tens of thousands of followers. Most of the accounts originate from Israel, according to the SimilarWebb website traffic site.
Ohad Zeidenberg, a cyber researcher at ClearSky: "The Iranian phishing and propaganda system has been operating in dozens of countries for more than six years, and in the early stages, it promoted Iranian interests mainly in the Middle East region in countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan, It's first goal was 'to spread the ideas of the Islamic revolution. In 2014, the Iranians expanded the objectives of the network and established designated news sites for each country and entity that interested Iran. In our assessment, the goal of establishing the infrastructure is to influence public opinion in the target countries."