A cleaner employed by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at his personal residence was arrested on suspicion of attempting to contact Iran-linked hackers in order to provide them with sensitive information on the security chief, officials said Thursday.
According to the Shin Bet and State Attorney's Office and charges filed to the Lod District Court, 37-year-old Omri Goren Gorochovsky offered the Black Shadow hacker group to install a virus into Gantz's personal computer in exchange for monetary compensation.
Goren allegedly contacted the group after reports in Israeli media last month revealed Black Shadow's hacking attempts on the Israeli government and private targets.
After allegedly making contact with a member of Black Shadow via Telegram under a false identity, Goren took pictures inside Gantz's home. Among the items photographed were the defense minister's work desk, computers, phone, personal tablet, a box imprinted with IDF-related numerals, a router and its IP address and his property tax receipts.
The investigation was carried out by the Shin Bet, police's Lahav 433 special investigations unit and the Attorney General's Office - with Gantz's knowledge.
A search of his cell phone yielded findings that supported his confession, such as searches he made on the internet around about the time he contacted Black Shadow, translation he made from Hebrew to English using Google Translate and the restoration of the photos he took at Gantz's home.
In its announcement, the Shin Bet said that while the suspect posed a potential danger to national security, he "was not exposed to classified material and subsequently none was passed on from him to the elements with whom he made contact".
He has a rich criminal record that includes five convictions and 14 charges between 2002-2013, including two bank robberies, burglary, theft and more. He also was sentenced to four prison terms, the last of which for robbery, was for four years.
Gal Wolf, the attorney representing Goren, implied on Kan public radio that the man had intended to extract money without actually being able to carry out any espionage.
"A person can boast and say he can deliver the goods, (but) the Shin Bet's statement does not stand the test of reality," Wolf said.
Iranian hackers last month posted files allegedly containing private information on hundreds of IDF soldiers.
The files, leaked by a hacker group named "Moses Staff", also contain details of the deployment of an IDF combat brigade, including job descriptions, a full list of names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and residential addresses of members of the brigade.
Photos of Gantz were also posted by the group, along with a threat that he is being surveyed by the hackers. "We know every decision you make and will hit you where you least expect it. We have secret Defense Ministry documents, operational military maps and troop deployment information and will publish your crimes to the world," the hackers said in their post.
While campaigning for elections in 2019, the former military chief was warned by the Shin Bet that Iranian intelligence hacked his cellphone, putting "his personal details and addresses in hostile hands."
A statement from Gantz's campaign at the time insinuated his opponents leaked the news to damage his political bid.