Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico’s most prominent journalists, was targeted with sophisticated Israeli-made malware designed to turn her smartphone effectively into a weapon against her. (Eneas De Troya)
29 June 2017 |Ali Abunimah | TheElectronic Intifada
“Mexican investigative journalists and human rights defenders were the targets of sophisticated attempts to spy on them by hacking their smartphones, an investigation by the press freedom group Article 19 and internet security researchers revealed earlier this month.
The system used in the attack is called Pegasus and it is made by a secretive Israeli company called NSO Group.
It works like this: the target receives a text message that appears personal or might contain an urgent message about a family member. It is accompanied by a link. If the target clicks on the link, the system installs malware – harmful software that operates undetected – on their device that effectively turns it into a weapon against them and those near them.
A digital security expert has told The Electronic Intifada that activists and journalists involved in work in and about Palestine should understand the dangers and take steps to make themselves less vulnerable.
Once infected by the malware, a smartphone can send a frightening amount of data back to those doing the spying, including tracking the person’s movements and location. The malware can take screenshots and turn on the phone’s camera and microphone, retrieve emails, WhatsApp messages and passwords.
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