UK government reportedly hit by Pegasus spyware

(Image credit: Future)

Cybersecurity researchers from Citizen Lab have warned UK officials from 10 Downing Street and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that their endpoints were being targeted with spyware.

The report claims that in 2020 and 2021, UK representatives, most likely working abroad in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had their devices infected by the Pegasus spyware, a known malware strain developed and sold by NSO Group.

NSO Group is an infamous Israeli tech company that sells surveillance tools to governments around the world. It’s been often criticized due to the fact that Pegasus gets used against politicians, journalists, and civil rights activists. In one case, it was allegedly also used by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, UAE, to hack his ex-wife's phone. He denied the claims.

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NSO Group denies all allegations

Some western countries have banned the company from their jurisdictions, and banned the use of their tools, altogether. 

As for these specific allegations, NSO Group denied them all, claiming that such an attack “could not have taken place.”

"The information raised regarding these allegations are, yet again, false and could not be related to NSO products for technological and contractual reasons,” NSO Group’s spokesperson was quoted saying.

"NSO continues to be targeted by a number of politically motivated advocacy organizations, like Citizens Labs and Amnesty, to produce inaccurate and unsubstantiated reports based on vague and incomplete information.

"We have repeatedly co-operated with governmental investigations, where credible allegations merit."

Citizen Lab stumbled upon these findings while investigating the case of comprehensive spying of Catalan politicians. Allegedly, 65 officials of the northern Spanish region were being spied upon, including members of the European Parliament, Catalan presidents, legislators, jurists, and members of civil society organizations.

Researchers tested “a number of official phones”, including that of the prime minister, but we don’t know which endpoints were infected, and if any data had been stolen. 

Via: BBC

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.