NSO spyware “Pegasus” has been under great scrutiny over the past year for its use in hacking iPhones and Android devices of journalists, activities, rival politicians, and other dissidents by authoritarian and even democratic regimes, globally. In November 2021, Apple filed an injunction to bar NSO from targeting iPhone users.
A new investigation by Front Line Defenders and Citizen Lab found that Pegasus was used to hack the iPhone of an award-winning Jordanian journalist only a few weeks after the tech giant had sought an injunction against NSO.
Pegasus was used to hack the iPhone of a Jordanian journalist and human rights defender
Unlike other spyware, Pegasus is more dangerous because it uses a zero-click exploit that does not require any action from the users and simple text messages can install malware on their targetted device. The malware gives access to the victim’s photos, contacts, messages, location, and other sensitive data to the attacker.
Tech Crunch reports that Apple’s injunction could not stop the use of NSO spyware and its latest victim was a Jordanian journalist and human rights defender, Suhair Jaradat. The investigation has revealed that Jaradat’s iPhone was hacked several times as far back as February 2021.
Investigators say they have found evidence that a Jordanian journalist and human rights defender’s iPhone was hacked with the Pegasus spyware just weeks after Apple sued the spyware’s maker NSO Group to stop it from targeting Apple’s customers.
Award-winning journalist Suhair Jaradat’s phone was hacked with the notorious spyware as recently as December 5, 2021, according to an analysis of her phone by Front Line Defenders and Citizen Lab that was shared with TechCrunch ahead of its publication. Jaradat was sent a WhatsApp message from someone impersonating a popular anti-government critic with links to the Pegasus spyware, compromising her phone. According to the forensic analysis, Jaradat’s iPhone was hacked several times in the preceding months and as far back as February 2021 […]
An iPhone is considered a more secure device than an Android smartphone, therefore, cybersecurity experts pressurized Apple to take stronger measures to make its iOS device safer against such spyware. Commenting on the lawsuit against NSO, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said:
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change. Apple devices are the most secure consumer hardware on the market — but private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous. While these cybersecurity threats only impact a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously, and we’re constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy protections in iOS to keep all our users safe.”