Department staff. In the state of the USA, it was hacked with Pegasus

A person familiar with the matter said Friday that the phones of 11 US State Department employees were hacked with spyware from Israel’s NSO Group, the world’s most famous hacking company for rent.

The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation, said that all the staff were in Uganda and that some of the diplomatic corps included.

The same source said that some Ugandans working for the agency were apparently among the 11 hacked.

It is the first known case in which the Pegasus spyware, designed by the NSO Group, has been used against US government employees.

It is not known which individual or entity used NSO’s technology to hack accounts, or what information they were looking for.

“We are deeply concerned that commercial spyware such as the NSO Group’s software poses a serious security and counterintelligence risk to American personnel,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news briefing Friday.

John Scott Railton of Citizen Lab, the team of researchers at the University of Toronto that has been tracking Pegasus practices for years, described the discovery as a major wake-up call for the US government on diplomatic security.

He said, “We have seen for years diplomats from all over the world being targeted, and it seems the message should reach the US government in this very direct and unfortunate way. There is no exception when it comes to American phones in diplomats’ pockets.”

News of the hack, first reported by Reuters, comes a month after the US Commerce Department placed NSO Group on a blacklist that prevents the company from using US technology.

In addition, last week Apple filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group to prevent the hacking of all iPhones and other Apple products, calling the Israeli company “unethical mercenaries of the 21st century.”

The person familiar with the matter said that State Department employees had their iPhones hacked.

In a statement, NSO said that when asked about the Ugandan phones, it “immediately terminated all customers potentially related to this case,” but did not identify those customers.

The company explained that its spy technology has locks that prevent it from hacking phones located in the United States and that it is only sold to authorized customers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.