Human rights nonprofit Amnesty International on Tuesday disclosed what it says was a plot likely carried out by a hostile government to infiltrate its network by infecting a member of its staff with sophisticated spyware. According to Amnesty, an employee received a WhatsApp message in June 2018 containing a link that, had it been clicked, would’ve installed Pegasus, powerful surveillance software developed by Israeli hacking firm NSO Group. “NSO Group is known to only sell its spyware to governments,” Amnesty’s Joshua Franco, head of technology and human rights, said in a statement. “We therefore believe that this was a deliberate attempt to infiltrate Amnesty International by a government hostile to our human rights work.” While Amnesty positively identified the malware used in the attack as NSO’s Pegasus, it accused neither the firm nor any specific government actor playing a role in the attempted infiltration. The Pegasus spyware can be used by attackers to steal photos and messages, monitor calls, track keystrokes, and ever peer through a device’s camera. It is known to have previously been turned on investigators in Mexico looking into the disappearance of 43 students in the city of Iguala. Amnesty said the message containing the infected link was sent to its staff member as the group campaigning for the release of six women’s rights activists detained in Saudi Arabia. The message read in full: “Can you please cover [the protest] for your brothers detained in Saudi Arabia in front of the Saudi embassy in Washington. My brother… [Read full story]
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