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Israeli cyber security firm Seculert reports that hackers gained unauthorized access to more than a dozen computers belonging to the Israeli Defense Ministry earlier this month.

The attackers used a spear-phishing email designed to look like it was sent by the country’s Shin Bet secret security service which contained a malicious attachment that infected the systems with the Xtreme RAT software, a remote access tool.

Xtreme RAT is a remote access tool that would have allowed the attackers complete control of the systems, including uploading and downloading files, and the ability to execute code.

“All we know is at least one computer at the Civil Administration was in control of the attackers; what they did we don’t know,” said Seculert’s Aviv Raff.

While this attack emanated from a server in the United States, it is believed to have been conducted by Palestinians because of its similarity to a previous attack on Israeli systems more than a year ago that originated on servers in the Gaza Strip.

“We are not commenting on it, we don’t respond to such reports,” said Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli Civil Administration, the only agency that has acknowledged that one of the breached systems was theirs.

An anonymous source told Reuters that Israeli defense contractors may have also been compromised in the attack, which employed an email supposedly containing information on the recent death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

“Unfortunately there is no such thing as 100 percent safety either when it comes to physical risks or information security,” Raff said.

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