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Hackers threaten to expose the user database of an Israeli LBGTQ dating site


Users of an LGBTQ dating site in Israel are on edge after a cyberattack there. Hackers have leaked some user data already and are threatening to expose more unless they're paid a million dollars. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: The hacking group Black Shadow has hit Israeli websites before but none as personal as Atraf, Israel's most prominent LGBTQ dating site, used primarily by gay men. This weekend, the hackers leaked a sample list of 1,000 users, including cellphone numbers, email addresses, sexual preferences and HIV status. They leaked it on their channel on the messaging app Telegram and threatened to post the entire user database sometime Tuesday if they're not paid a ransom.

HILA PEER: And this is definitely a social crisis for the LGBTQ community in Israel.

ESTRIN: Hila Peer is with the Aguda, an Israeli LGBTQ advocacy group. They've been fielding calls from users whose data was exposed. And they've heard from users in the closet from communities not welcoming of their sexuality, afraid they could be next. Telegram has been trying to block the hackers' accounts at Israel's request.

PEER: So we're hoping Telegram will continue to cooperate with us 'cause this is really life-threatening for all those people potentially being outed.

ESTRIN: Gil Missing, spokesman of the cybersecurity company Check Point, says the Black Shadow hackers appear to be located in Iran.

GIL MESSING: Black Shadow uses a code that is duplicating or identical to codes that were used by attacks that originated from Iran. But it should be stressed that hackers that operated from Iran is not necessarily government entities or proxies of the government.

ESTRIN: Israel's cybersecurity directorate said it warned the dating site it was vulnerable. The company tells NPR they have not paid the hackers' ransom and are consulting the Israeli government about what to do next. The clock is ticking.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.