The IDF and National Cyber Directorate issued a joint statement Saturday night to clarify messages received by multiple people in Israel over Shabbat urging them to disconnect their WhatsApp from the computer and location services.
One of the messages read as follows:
Did you receive a message via SMS that you should disconnect any computer linked to applications on the mobile phone? This is a real message, sent from the IDF’s information security system (Mahbam).
The message reads: “The following is a mandatory instruction of the information security system – you must immediately disconnect any computer that is simultaneously connected to mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp, as well as cancel non-essential location services.” The National Cyber System confirmed that it was a true message, and said that it was a binding directive.
In their subsequent joint statement, the IDF and National Cyber Directorate clarified that the message was indeed sent by the IDF Information Security Department, BUT was intended ONLY for IDF reservists.
“The message was sent as part of efforts to raise awareness and bring about safe conduct online. The IDF regrets the lack of clarity in the wording of the message.
“The recommendation is not binding on citizens, but as a general rule, the National Cyber Directorate recommends exercising caution in the network:
1. At the end of using WhatsApp Web, close the browser and disconnect the connection through the phone: click on three dots in WhatsApp “connected devices” and tap on a device to disconnect.
On your phone:
a. In WhatsApp, go to three dots at the top right, choose Linked Devices, and “tap a device to log out” to disconnect them.
b. In Telegram, 3 lines top left, Settings, Devices, Terminate All Other Sessions)
2. Location permissions: It is recommended NOT to turn off location on the mobile device!
“The recommendation is not to approve location permissions in apps that do not have a real need to grant this permission. However, it is very important that the permission to use the location is approved for the Homefront Command application (and other Red Alert apps like Tzofar and Cumta)” the IDF clarified.