The Hacker News Logo
Subscribe to Newsletter
CrowdSec

The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: Pegasus

NSO Confirms Pegasus Spyware Used by at least 5 European Countries

NSO Confirms Pegasus Spyware Used by at least 5 European Countries
June 23, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The beleaguered Israeli surveillanceware vendor NSO Group this week admitted to the European Union lawmakers that its Pegasus tool was used by at least five countries in the region. "We're trying to do the right thing and that's more than other companies working in the industry," Chaim Gelfand, the company's general counsel and chief compliance officer, said, according to a  report  from Politico. Acknowledging that it had "made mistakes," the company also stressed on the need for an international standard to regulate the government use of spyware. The disclosure comes as a special inquiry committee was  launched in April 2022  to investigate alleged breaches of E.U. law following revelations that the company's Pegasus spyware is being used to snoop on phones belonging to politicians, diplomats, and civil society members. "The committee is going to look into existing national laws regulating surveillance, and whether Pegasus spyware was us

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists
April 19, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A previously unknown zero-click exploit in Apple's iMessage was used to install mercenary spyware from  NSO Group  and  Candiru  against at least 65 individuals as part of a "multi-year clandestine operation." "Victims included Members of the European Parliament, Catalan Presidents, legislators, jurists, and members of civil society organizations," the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab  said  in a new report. "Family members were also infected in some cases." Of the 65 individuals, 63 were targeted with Pegasus and four others were infected with Candiru, with iPhones belonging to at least two compromised with both. The incidents are said to have mostly occurred between 2017 and 2020. The attacks involved the weaponization of an iOS exploit dubbed HOMAGE that made it possible to penetrate the devices running versions prior to iOS 13.2, which was released on October 28, 2019. It's worth noting that the latest version of iOS is iOS 15.4.1.

E.U. Officials Reportedly Targeted with Israeli Pegasus Spyware

E.U. Officials Reportedly Targeted with Israeli Pegasus Spyware
April 12, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Senior officials in the European Union were allegedly targeted with NSO Group's infamous Pegasus surveillance tool, according to a  new report  from Reuters. At least five individuals, including European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, are said to have been singled out in total, the news agency said, citing documents and two unnamed E.U. officials. However, it's not clear who used the commercial spyware against them or what information was obtained following the attacks. NSO Group said in a statement shared with Reuters that it was not responsible for the hacking attempts, adding that the targeting "could not have happened with NSO's tools." The intrusions are said to have come to light after Apple notified the victims of state-sponsored attacks last November as part of its efforts to stop the Israeli surveillance firm from targeting its customers. That same month, the iPhone maker  filed a lawsuit  against NSO Group, seeking a court-issued injunction

EU Data Protection Watchdog Calls for Ban on Pegasus-like Commercial Spyware

EU Data Protection Watchdog Calls for Ban on Pegasus-like Commercial Spyware
February 16, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
The European Union's data protection authority on Tuesday called for a ban on the development and the use of Pegasus-like commercial spyware in the region, stating that the technology's "unprecedented level of intrusiveness" could endanger users' right to privacy. "Pegasus constitutes a paradigm shift in terms of access to private communications and devices, which is able to affect the very essence of our fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy," the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)  said  in its preliminary remarks. "This fact makes its use incompatible with our democratic values." Pegasus  is a piece of highly advanced military-grade intrusion software developed by Israeli company NSO Group that's capable of breaking into smartphones running Android and iOS, turning the devices into a remote monitoring tool capable of extracting sensitive information, recording conversations, and tracking users' movements.

Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries

Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries
November 25, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Israel's Ministry of Defense has dramatically restricted the number of countries to which cybersecurity firms operating in the nation are allowed to sell offensive hacking and surveillance tools to, cutting off 65 nations from the export list. The revised list, details of which were first reported by the Israeli business newspaper  Calcalist , now only includes 37 countries, down from the previous 102: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. Notably missing from the list are countries such as Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E, which have been previously identified as customers of Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group. In curtailing the exports, the mov

Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware

Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware
November 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has sued NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies in a U.S. federal court holding it accountable for illegally targeting users with its Pegasus surveillance tool, marking yet another setback for the Israeli spyware vendor. The Cupertino-based tech giant painted NSO Group as "notorious hackers — amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse." In addition, the lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent the infamous hacker-for-hire company from breaking into any Apple software, services or devices. The iPhone maker, separately, also revealed its plans to  notify targets  of state-sponsored spyware attacks and has committed $10 million, as well as any monetary damages won as part of the lawsuit, to cybersurveillance research groups and advocates. To that end, the company intends to display a "Threat Notification" after the targeted users sign into appleid.apple[

US Sanctions Pegasus-maker NSO Group and 3 Others For Selling Spyware

US Sanctions Pegasus-maker NSO Group and 3 Others For Selling Spyware
November 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday added four companies, including Israel-based spyware companies NSO Group and Candiru , to a list of entities engaging in "malicious cyber activities." The agency said the two companies were added to the list based on evidence that "these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers." "These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists, and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent," the Commerce Department  said . Two other firms on the list include Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD . and Russia's Positive Technologies , the latter of which was already  sanctioned  by the U.S. Depa

NYT Journalist Repeatedly Hacked with Pegasus after Reporting on Saudi Arabia

NYT Journalist Repeatedly Hacked with Pegasus after Reporting on Saudi Arabia
October 24, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The iPhone of New York Times journalist Ben Hubbard was repeatedly hacked with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware tool over a three-year period stretching between June 2018 to June 2021, resulting in infections twice in July 2020 and June 2021. The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which  publicized  the findings on Sunday, said the "targeting took place while he was reporting on Saudi Arabia, and writing a book about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman." The research institute did not attribute the infiltrations to a specific government. In a  statement  shared with Hubbard, the Israeli company denied its involvement in the hacks and dismissed the findings as "speculation," while noting that the journalist was not "a target of Pegasus by any of NSO's customers." To date, NSO Group is believed to have leveraged at least three different iOS exploits — namely an iMessage zero-click exploit in December 2019, a  KISMET  exploit targeting iOS 13

Beware of Fake Amnesty International Antivirus for Pegasus that Hacks PCs with Malware

Beware of Fake Amnesty International Antivirus for Pegasus that Hacks PCs with Malware
October 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
In yet another indicator of how hacking groups are quick to capitalize on world events and improvise their attack campaigns for maximum impact, threat actors have been discovered impersonating Amnesty International to distribute malware that purports to be security software designed to safeguard against NSO Group's Pegasus surveillanceware.  "Adversaries have set up a phony website that looks like Amnesty International's — a human rights-focused non-governmental organization — and points to a promised antivirus tool to protect against the NSO Group's Pegasus tool," Cisco Talos researchers  said . "However, the download actually installs the little-known Sarwent malware." The countries most affected by the campaign include the U.K., the U.S., Russia, India, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania, and Colombia. While it's unclear as to how the victims are lured into visiting the fake Amnesty International website, the cybersecurity firm surmised the atta

Apple Issues Urgent Updates to Fix New Zero-Day Linked to Pegasus Spyware

Apple Issues Urgent Updates to Fix New Zero-Day Linked to Pegasus Spyware
September 13, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has released  iOS 14.8, iPadOS 14.8 ,  watchOS 7.6.2 ,  macOS Big Sur 11.6 , and  Safari 14.1.2  to fix two actively exploited vulnerabilities, one of which defeated extra security protections built into the operating system. The list of two flaws is as follows - CVE-2021-30858  (WebKit) - A use after free issue that could result in arbitrary code execution when processing maliciously crafted web content. The flaw has been addressed with improved memory management. CVE-2021-30860  (CoreGraphics) - An integer overflow vulnerability that could lead to arbitrary code execution when processing a maliciously crafted PDF document. The bug has been remediated with improved input validation. "Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited," the iPhone maker noted in its advisory. The updates arrive weeks after researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab revealed details of a zero-day exploit called " FORCEDENTRY "

New Leak Reveals Abuse of Pegasus Spyware to Target Journalists Globally

New Leak Reveals Abuse of Pegasus Spyware to Target Journalists Globally
July 18, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
A sweeping probe into a data leak of more than 50,000 phone numbers has revealed an extensive misuse of Israeli company NSO Group's Pegasus "military-grade spyware" to facilitate human rights violations by surveilling heads of state, activists, journalists, and lawyers around the world. Dubbed the " Pegasus Project ," the  investigation  is a collaboration by more than 80 journalists from a consortium of 17 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, along with the technical support of Amnesty International. "The Pegasus Project lays bare how NSO's spyware is a weapon of choice for repressive governments seeking to silence journalists, attack activists and crush dissent, placing countless lives in peril," Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Agnès Callamard,  said . "These revelations blow apart any claims by NSO that such attacks are rare and down to rogue use of their te

Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users

Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users
October 29, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Finally, for the very first time, an encrypted messaging service provider is taking legal action against a private entity that has carried out malicious attacks against its users. Facebook filed a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, alleging that the company was actively involved in hacking users of its end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp messaging service. Earlier this year, it was discovered that WhatsApp had a critical vulnerability that attackers were found exploiting in the wild to remotely install Pegasus spyware on targeted Android and iOS devices. The flaw (CVE-2019-3568) successfully allowed attackers to silently install the spyware app on targeted phones by merely placing a WhatsApp video call with specially crafted requests, even when the call was not answered. Developed by NSO Group, Pegasus allows access to an incredible amount of data from victims' smartphones remotely, including their text messages, emails, WhatsApp chats,

Hackers Used WhatsApp 0-Day Flaw to Secretly Install Spyware On Phones

Hackers Used WhatsApp 0-Day Flaw to Secretly Install Spyware On Phones
May 13, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Whatsapp has recently patched a severe vulnerability that was being exploited by attackers to remotely install surveillance malware on a few "selected" smartphones by simply calling the targeted phone numbers over Whatsapp audio call. Discovered, weaponized and then sold by the Israeli company NSO Group that produces the most advanced mobile spyware on the planet, the WhatsApp exploit installs Pegasus spyware on to Android and iOS devices. According to an advisory published by Facebook, a buffer overflow vulnerability in WhatsApp VOIP stack allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code on target phones by sending a specially crafted series of SRTCP packets. Apparently, the vulnerability, identified as CVE-2019-3568 , can successfully be exploited to install the spyware and steal data from a targeted Android phone or iPhone by merely placing a WhatsApp call, even when the call is not answered. Also, the victim would not be able to find out about the intrusion af

Powerful Android and iOS Spyware Found Deployed in 45 Countries

Powerful Android and iOS Spyware Found Deployed in 45 Countries
September 18, 2018Swati Khandelwal
One of the world's most dangerous Android and iPhone spyware program has been found deployed against targets across 45 countries around the world over the last two years, a new report from Citizen Lab revealed. The infamous spyware, dubbed Pegasus, is developed by NSO Group—an Israeli company which is mostly known for selling high-tech surveillance tools capable of remotely cracking into iPhones and Android devices to intelligence agencies around the world. Pegasus is NSO Group's most powerful creation that has been designed to hack iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices remotely, allowing an attacker to access an incredible amount of data on a target victim, including text messages, calendar entries, emails, WhatsApp messages, user's location, microphone, and camera—all without the victim's knowledge. Pegasus has previously been used to target human rights activists and journalists, from Mexico to the United Arab Emirates . Just last month, The Hacker New

NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers

NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers
August 01, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Amnesty International, one of the most prominent non-profit human rights organizations in the world, claims one of its staff members has been targeted by a sophisticated surveillance tool made by Israel's NSO Group. The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that's mostly known for selling high-tech spyware and surveillance malware capable of remotely cracking into Apple's iPhones and Google's Android devices to intelligence apparatuses, militaries, and law enforcement around the world. The company's most powerful spyware called Pegasus for iPhone , Android , and other mobile devices has previously been used to target human rights activists and journalists, from Mexico to the United Arab Emirates. Pegasus has been designed to hack mobile phones remotely, allowing an attacker to access an incredible amount of data on a target victim, including text messages, emails, WhatsApp messages , user's location, microphone, and camera —all without the victim's knowl

Mexican Govt. Allegedly Used Spyware Against Journalists, Activists & A Child

Mexican Govt. Allegedly Used Spyware Against Journalists, Activists & A Child
June 19, 2017Swati Khandelwal
After the disclosure of sophisticated global espionage and disinformation campaign aimed to discredit enemies of the state, Citizen Lab researchers exposed the dirty game of the Mexican government and its politics. The report — " Government Spy: Systematic monitoring of journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico " — published by Citizen Lab today revealed how the Mexican government used advanced spyware tools purchased from the NSO Group to target the country's most prominent human rights lawyers, anti-corruption activists, and journalists. The NSO Group, an Israel-based company that produces the most advanced mobile spyware on the planet, sold the tool to governments with an explicit agreement that it should be used only to fight terrorists or criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans. But, the Mexican government targets include: Lawyers looking into the case of 43 Students disappeared in September 2014 from the town of Iguala. Two
Online Courses and Software

Sign up for cybersecurity newsletter and get latest news updates delivered straight to your inbox daily.