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Investigation finds Israeli-designed spyware was used to hack journalists and activists around the world – KION546

Devan Cole, CNN

37 smartphones owned by journalists, human rights activists and executives, and two women connected to a murdered Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi Targeted by government-approved “military spyware” by Israeli companies, according to a survey by a consortium of media organizations including The Washington Post, published on Sunday..

The post was on Sunday, the phone was “on a list of over 50,000 numbers concentrated in countries known to engage in civil surveillance,” of the NSO Group, a company that is superficially licensed for Pegasus spyware. Track down terrorists and major criminals who have reported known to be clients.

Through a survey conducted in collaboration with Amnesty International, a non-profit journalism organization based in Paris, and Forbidden Stories, the newspaper said, “Through surveys and interviews, more than 1,000 people across more than 50 countries. I was able to identify it. ” Four continents: several Arab royal members, at least 65 executives, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, more than 600 politicians and government officials (Cabinet Minister, diplomats, military and security) Including officers). The number of heads of state and prime ministers was also on the list. “

The phone numbers of reporters working abroad at CNN, Associated Press, Voice of America, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, Lemond, France, Financial Times, UK, and Al Jazeera, Qatar, according to the post, until 2016 List of. The newspaper did not appoint a reporter in the story. “The list doesn’t specify who numbered it, why, and it’s unclear how many phones were targeted or monitored,” the post reported.

CNN has not independently validated the findings of the Pegasus project sponsored by Forbidden Stories.

In a long statement to CNN on Sunday, the NSO Group strongly denied the findings, saying, “The technology was used by law enforcement agencies and scrutinized governments with the sole purpose of saving lives through the prevention of crime and terrorist acts. It sells only to intelligence agencies. ” “

“NSO does not operate the system and has no data visibility,” the company said, “investigating all credible misuse claims in such investigations and taking appropriate action based on the results.” “.

The NSO also said the system “dismantled pedophilia circles, gender, drug trafficking circles, found missing or kidnapped children, found survivors trapped under collapsed buildings, and dangerous drones. It is used daily to protect the airspace from catastrophic invasion by. “

Posts were mostly in the Middle East, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but “the largest number is in Mexico, with more than 15,000 including those belonging to politicians, union representatives, journalists, etc.” Reported that it was. Government critics were on the list. “

According to the newspaper, other countries including India, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, France and Hungary are also on the list.

According to the survey, “about 12 Americans working abroad were on the list, but except for one, they are using phones registered on the overseas mobile network,” Post said. It was. “The consortium was unable to perform forensic analysis on most of these phones.”

The newspaper said the NSO “has long stated that the product cannot be used to monitor U.S. phones,” and the probe “found evidence of a successful spyware intrusion on U.S. country-coded phones.” I couldn’t. “

Developed 10 years ago with the help of a former Israeli cyber spy, spyware is designed to easily circumvent typical smartphone privacy measures such as “strong passwords and encryption”. “Warning to users” and “Read what users can do on their devices to steal photos, records, location records, communications, passwords, call records, and social media posts.” The post also states that “spyware can also activate cameras and microphones for real-time surveillance.”

Pegasus spyware can launch attacks in a variety of ways, including “SMS text messages or malicious links in iMessage,” the paper said. According to the post, some spyware companies use “zero-click” attacks to deliver spyware by simply sending a message to the user’s phone that does not generate a notification. According to the post, “users” of such attacks “do not even need to touch their cell phones to initiate the infection.”

In the case of Khashoggi, the newspaper said spyware targeted the two women closest to the late Washington Post journalist. Killed in October 2018..

“The phone of his fiancé Hatige Senzis was successfully infected in the days following the murder … and (his) wife Hanan Eratl used Pegasus months before the murder. Someone was trying to call me. Amnesty International couldn’t determine if the hack was successful, “post said.

In a statement, the NSO denied that the technique was used in connection with Khashoggi’s killing, saying, “Our technique hears, monitors, and monitors information about him or his family mentioned in the investigation. It was not used to track and collect. “

The-CNN-Wire
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