Hacking for "signals intelligence" doesn't take NSA-level resources; it doesn't even require very sophisticated exploit tools. Using a combination of Windows and Android malware and some very simple social engineering, a group aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad have raked in a wealth of intelligence on Syrian opposition groups. And they did it by pretending to be women and flirting with their victims.
Over the past two years, using a combination of fake social media and Skype accounts associated with fictional female supporters of Syrian rebel groups, the group—apparently operating from Lebanon—fooled rebel soldiers and others providing aid to them into downloading malware to their computers and Android smartphones. As revealed in a report published today by FireEye (PDF), the group (which may have been associated with Hezbollah) was able to harvest not just personal information on their targets, but also battle plans and other intelligence information that could have been used by Hezbollah and the Syrian government's troops to counter the opposition.
FireEye discovered the operation during a malware investigation, uncovering a cache of 7.7 gigabytes of stolen data on a German server. The data contains Skype databases including chat logs and contacts, as well as documents and images.