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Israeli spyware targets phones of Al-Jazeera journalists


Spyware sold by an Israel based espionage company NSO Group has reportedly been used to compromise the phones of journalists, producers, anchors and executives at Al-Jazeera.

The attack has been blamed on cyber actors linked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

That’s according to a report by the researchers from Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, who uncovered a major espionage campaign under which the hackers used rogue code that is more often used by customers of the Israeli company NSO Group.

NSO Group states that surveillance software, known as Pegasus, it develops, is only intended for use by governments and law enforcement agencies to track terrorists and criminals.

However, the company is often under fire. The spyware Pegasus has reportedly been used to attack journalists in Morocco and political dissidents in Rwanda. A mobile phone belonging to a senior Catalan politician was also allegedly targeted in 2019 using spyware from NSO Group.

Despite all the evidence, NSO has continuously denied knowing about these abuses. In a statement to the Guardian, it said it was not familiar with the allegations. “As we have repeatedly stated we do not have access to any information with respect to the identities of individuals our system is used to conduct surveillance on. However, where we receive credible evidence of misuse, combined with the basic identifiers of the alleged targets and timeframes, we take all necessary steps in accordance with our product misuse investigation procedure to review the allegations,” said the company in a statement.

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