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WhatsApp Vulnerability: Even politicians and military spied


Software from the Israeli company BNSO was used not only to monitor dissidents and journalists in several countries: it also claimed that high-ranking government officials and officers were among the targets.

The complaint of WhatsApp mother Facebook against the Israeli surveillance software manufacturer NSO has, according to Reuters information, a hot side aspect. In the spring, NSO was not only able to spread a spy software on the smartphones of journalists and dissidents via WhatsApp calls. Rather, several high-ranking government officials and military personnel from at least 20 countries were said to have been among those affected. Several people who are familiar with an internal investigation of the Facebook subsidiary said so.

On Tuesday, Facebook filed a lawsuit against NSO in California because the Israeli company wanted to gain access to hundreds of smartphones via a - now closed - WhatsApp vulnerability. In less than two weeks in April and May of this year, Israeli NSO attacked around 1400 devices, Facebook said.

Who was ultimately behind the hacker attacks against the government employees and military, is unclear. If it were government agencies, the espionage attempts would be the same with the help of a private service provider. The Facebook lawsuit could therefore have a political dimension.

"Pegasus" is a powerful spy tool

The used NSO software is called "Pegasus" and installed itself on the devices of the victims even if they did not accept the call. After that, it connected to Israeli company servers, giving them access to contact information and message content on devices, among other things. The captured data passed NSO on to its customers.

NSO had said that it would only sell its spyware to governments so they could use it to fight terrorism and crime. For the new allegations NSO initially received no opinion.

Source: spiegel

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