December 10, 2023

How does espionage work and who is the victim?

How does the program work and who is the victim?

The latest developments

Using the Israeli Pegasus surveillance program, several countries have apparently spied on hundreds of journalists, human rights activists, opposition politicians and businessmen.

Pegasus monitoring software is used to spy on cell phones.

Karen Hoover / NZ

The latest developments

  • Google reveals technical details that allowed NSO to take control of iPhones. The manufacturers of Pegasus monitoring software have used several vulnerabilities in dealing with image and PDF files in iMessage for iPhone, Google writes on Wednesday (December 15). They used a standard from the 1990s called Jbig2, which was developed at the time for scanning documents. With the basic instructions contained in it, they developed their own microcomputer that could execute any commands. “This is so unbelievable and at the same time so frightening,” Google security researchers write in the technical report. It is “one of the most technically sophisticated attacks we have ever seen”. Google is talking about more evidence that NSO has cyber capabilities that only a handful of countries have – and that it’s making it more widely available to other countries. Apple fixed the vulnerabilities with a patch back in September.
  • “According to our research and findings, this is one of the most technically sophisticated attacks we have ever seen. This is further evidence that the opportunities offered by the National Statistics Office rival those previously thought to be available to a few nation-states.”
  • At least nine US diplomats were spied on over the use of Pegasus. This was reported by Reuters news agency on Friday, December 3rd, based on four unidentified sources. The affected diplomats live in Uganda or have close ties to the country. NSO Group, the maker of the Pegasus spyware, announced an internal investigation by Reuters.
  • Israel restricts the sale of spyware. Companies are now only allowed to export software in cybersecurity and surveillance to 37 countries instead of the previous 102, The Israeli business publication Calcalist also wrote (25/11). This change could have consequences for the manufacturer of the controversial Pegasus monitoring software, NSO Group. According to various reports, countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco or Mexico were or were among NSO clients who are no longer shortlisted. According to its transparency report, NSO exports its products not only from Israel, but also from Bulgaria and Cyprus.
  • Apple sues NSO Group, the maker of the Pegasus spyware, for eavesdropping on Apple devices without their owners knowing. Apple wrote this on Tuesday (November 23) at press release. according to Request Apple now wants to permanently ban the NSO Group from using its products. Apple also promises to notify users whose devices have been infected with the spyware. to report
  • The company behind the controversial Pegasus surveillance program has been blacklisted by the United States. This decision by the Biden government will make it difficult for the Israeli NSO Group to access American technology in the future. The Ministry of Commerce justifies the decision On Wednesday 3 November with the fact that Pegasus used malicious surveillance of “officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, scientists and embassy staff”. This enables “transnational repression”. to report
  • Swiss authorities also used the controversial Pegasus spyware – and it may still be used today. Several sources confirm to NZZ that it was used between summer 2017 and fall 2018. Various evidence strongly indicates that the program is still used by the federal government today. to report
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