States have installed spyware on thousands of the phones of journalists and activists in some 50 countries. More than 1,000 French would be among these targets.
This is the scandal of this Sunday, July 18. In an investigation by , a large international consortium of journalists from seventeen editorial staff, supported by Amnesty International, was able to retrieve a list of 50,000 phone numbers targeted by spyware called . A software which is occasionally in the news and which has already been mentioned by .
In this survey, it appears that many states use this softwareto monitor activists, , politicians, journalists and opponents from all over the world. Among the targets, there are about thirty journalists and French media bosses from the newspaper The world, from France Televisions, from Figaro or even AFP. In all, more than 1,000 French would be affected. Thirteen heads of state or government, including three Europeans, were also spied on via Pegasus. The 50,000 telephone numbers recorded are not all spied on, but are part of a list of potential targets.
The software can be implemented in different ways in the mobile . No data is not effective in protecting against it. It therefore goes beyond that of applications such as Signal or . In addition to retrieving messages, photos, contacts and listening to calls, it can also be used to activate the microphone and of the mobile.or an iPhone: fault via a like iMessage or , smartphone, installation via a link trapped like a . Once it sits there, it is difficult to detect, since it sits at the level of the phone’s kernel, i.e. the heart of the operating system, as described in an article in the cybersecurity company
A powerful cyber weapon
The NSO Group company is not always watchful and sometimes sells its spyware to whoever wants to buy it
It has around 40 states as clients, including Morocco, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. On the other hand, it would refrain from operating in around fifty countries and certain states deemed too sensitive. This is the case of the United States, Russia or Israel. Moreover, it is the latter who issues the authorizations to market its software and which sometimes pushes it to cross the red line for diplomatic reasons.
As the survey shows, this spyware can be considered a realallowing a small country to be equipped with a tool that can be used to fight terrorism and crime, but also to control the media and opponents. This scandal shows above all that, unlike the arms market, the regulations in cyber weapons sales is very blurry. A legal vagueness that can be dangerous when this powerful weapon is sold to a repressive state.
What you must remember
- Spyware, already known, targets 50,000 telephone numbers of personalities, journalists and activists.
- Pegasus originated from an Israeli company and has already been used by at least 40 countries.
- The software targets 1,000 French people.