NSO spyware used to lure Polish politicians, Khashoggi's wife, others
Spyware from Israeli tech company NSO Group has been involved in the hack of a leading Polish politician and several others, according to the University of Toronto's nonprofit Citizens' Lab.
In partnership with the Associated Press, Citizen Lab reported on Thursday that Polish Senator Krzysztof Brejza was caught using Pegasus NSO Group spyware 33 times between April 26, 2022 and October 23, 2022.
Brejza helped run a counter-campaign against the right-wing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's current government. Dotted images from Brejza's smartphone were falsely affected in several scandals and were shared by government - backed news outlets. Morawiecki eventually won the election with a thin razor edge.
Brejza, who has a reputation as a staunch anti-corruption activist, was shocked to learn about the hack. Access to his phone would give anyone information about his campaign strategy as well as the blowers of corruption he trusted.
Earlier in the week, Citizen Lab revealed that Pegasus was also used to gain access to the phones of Polish prosecutor Ewa Wrzosek and Roman Giertych, a lawyer for the Brejza party's Civic Platform.
While Morawiecki and the Polish government have denied involvement in the slump, EU member states have begun speaking out over the incident.
"EU governments using spyware on political opponents and critics will not be accepted. The EU Commission must stop this. Such practices have no place in the EU and must be banned. , "said Sophie, Dutch Dutch parliament in Veld tweeted Wednesday.
The news adds to the turbulent stories of the NSO Group. Citizen Lab gave evidence to the Washington Post showing that the UAE used Pegasus to locate and trace the phone of Hanan Elatr, the wife of a Saudi journalist who killed Jamal Khashoggi. Her phone was stolen months before her husband was murdered by Saudi officials.
Also: NSO Group spyware has been used against journalists and political activists around the world
NSO Group leader Shalev Hulio denied in July that Elatr and Khashoggi had always been the targets of Pegasus buyers. Even with the new forensic information, NSO Group continued to deny that Elatr had ever targeted it.
That story came after Citizen Lab provided information to the Guardian revealing that UN war crimes investigator Kamel Jendoubi was blocked by Pegasus while he was chairman of the Eminent Expert Group in Yemen.
NSO Group was listed by the U.S. government last month after it was revealed that Pegasus was used to access the phones of several U.S. State Department officials in Uganda. The NSO Group is in big trouble now, including a lawsuit from Apple and a potential bankruptcy of more than $ 300 million in loans.
Citizen Lab has been working with a number of news outlets throughout the year to highlight the scale of NSO Group's work. In July, the Pegasus Project used information from Amnesty International, Citizen Lab, and Forbidden Stories to discover that NSO Group Spyware had been used to target at least 65 business officials, 85 human rights activists, 189 journalists, and at least 600 politicians.
An Israeli government spy agency used the device to hack the phones of six Palestinian human rights activists. The UAE governor used Pegasus to spy on his ex-wife and her British lawyers.
Targeted government officials included French President Emmanuel Macron, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Iraqi President Barham Salih. It also targeted cabinet ministers from dozens of countries, including Egypt and Pakistan.
John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told ZDNet that the Polish victims of Pegasus were particularly special because they suggest that Pegasus is being used for political purposes in a European democracy.
Khashoggi's case confirms the knowledge that Pegasus' disease was in the close circle of a Washington Post reporter before his assassination, according to Scott-Railton. He said the case undermines NSO Group's credibility because it directly contradicts a number of statements made by them.
All in all, the stories revealed the worst fears of researchers: Pegasus used it ruthlessly to influence politics and human rights.
"Pegasus is also being used to grind major international institutions and the people who work on them. Taken together, coupled with NSO 's recent sad news, the picture of a company behaving unabashedly is be careful and avoid the horrific damage it was causing, "Scott- Railton said, noting that NSO Group is not the only spyware company causing damage.
He explained, "The problem extends far beyond NSO. NSO has just been made a poster child for how bad the industry is."