Amid hacker fears, Israeli MKs visiting Russia told to leave cellphones at home

Amidst the ever-evolving US probe of Russia’s efforts — computerized and otherwise — to influence the 2016 US election, six top Israeli legislators have been instructed to take extensive precautions while on a trip to Russia, to prevent hacking of sensitive data.

Members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, led by Committee head Avi Dichter (Likud), are in Moscow for discussions on the security situation along the Syrian front.

According to Channel 10 news, team members were told to leave their personal cellphones at home. They were also forbidden from accessing their personal or work email accounts while in Russia, and were instructed not to enter any passwords to any internet accounts while on Russian Wi-Fi.

Associated Press investigations have shown that Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group Fancy Bear worked in close alignment with the Kremlin’s interests to steal tens of thousands of emails from the Democratic Party. The hacking campaign disrupted the 2016 US election and cast a shadow over the presidency of Donald Trump, whom US intelligence agencies say the hackers were trying to help. The Russian government has denied interfering in the American election.

Earlier this week The Associated Press reported that the FBI failed to notify scores of US officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin’s crosshairs.

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