Pakistani Officials’ Phones Allegedly Targeted by Israeli Spyware

It is reported that Pakistani officials' phones were allegedly targeted by a malware which was owned by an Israeli technology company.

It is reported by the Guardian that two dozen Pakistani officials’ phones have allegedly been targeted by Israeli technology earlier this year. Pakistan has not publicized this matter yet. The technology is owned by an Israeli spyware company called NSO Group. The alleged attack of Pakistani officials was found out after analyzing 1,400 phones which were being targeted and hacked, out of which some were Pakistani officials.

This malware may have been used to access data on WhatsApp. Upon finding out about this breach, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and accused the company of “unauthorized access and abuse” in May. It claimed that the targets were journalists, politicians, activists and other government officials.

NSO’s signature software is the Pegasus, which is known for remote surveillance of smartphones but it’s questionable after this alleged attack on Pakistani officials. It could have been used for state-on-state espionage and it’s unclear how NSO’s clients use this software. When asked to comment over government espionage, NSO representatives declined to reply. Even WhatsApp and Pakistan embassies in London and Washington refused to reply.

The NSO Group has replied that this technology is only being used by law enforcement agencies to dig out information about criminals, terrorists and paedophiles. NSO has put out a new human rights policy which states that technology will only be used for prevention of serious crimes and the products will not be used to violate human rights.

Pakistan will be taking steps to further ensure the safety of confidential data. Dr Arslan Khalid, serving as PM’s advisor on digital media issues, said during a local press release that the government is working to develop an alternative to WhatsApp. It will be used by government officials to share such sensitive and confidential data.

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