We’ve all heard of the Edward Snowden case, which had already hit the headlines, and which had deeply alerted us to the way our personal data is used on a daily basis. During the evening of July 18, a case of the same level as the Snowden affair, if not even more serious, has been unveiled for all to see by more than a dozen different editors. We take stock of this subject.
Editors who have launched a common cry of alarm in France
Last night, July 18, 2021, seventeen editors launched a common cry of alarm, concerning the “Pegasus Case”, which is already one of (or the) biggest cyber espionage cases in the world. All these editorial staff had access to a little over 50,000 telephone numbers which were shared with them by Amnesty International et Forbidden Stories. All these numbers were the potential targets of a powerful spyware called “Pegasus”, which was created by the Israeli company. NSO Group.
Among these potential targets, in which there are (jumble, internationally) a head of state, two European heads of government, princes, princesses, billionaires, ambassadors, generals, but also men and women evolving in the upper echelons of power in the former Soviet Republic, or even athletes and journalists, many of them have indeed been infected with Pegasus. To achieve this result, 80 journalists fought hard, and tried to find who all these phone numbers corresponded to. A titanic job.
A perfectly oiled system
The NSO Group company was created in 2011, and offers the Pegasus software for use “reserved for the fight against terrorism and organized crime”. The company continues to claim, even after these latest revelations, that their solution is being developed. so as to save many lives. No reason for them, therefore, to close access to their tool to customers who are incriminated. However, it is highly unlikely that the group is unaware that a very large part of their customers engage, thanks to this tool, total surveillance of opponents political, and population.
Likewise, it is impossible to ignore that this tool is currently used for large-scale industrial espionage. However, in a recent statement (published in particular by our colleagues from World), the group defends itself:
NSO Group strongly denies the false accusations made in your investigation. These accusations are largely unsubstantiated theories, which cast serious doubts on the credibility of your sources, as well as the core of your investigation. Your sources have provided you with information that is not on no factual basis. NSO Group will continue to investigate credible accusations of misuse [de son logiciel] and act on the results of these investigations. This may consist in the interruption of the access of certain customers to the system in the event of confirmed abuse. He has done so in the past and will not hesitate to repeat it.
A quote which seems somewhat doubtful, in view of the elements which have just been brought to light. I have to say that Pegasus software is extremely precise, and almost undetectable, which makes it a tool that should not be put in everyone’s hands. The software is in fact invisible to the telephone user, and can be installed remotely, without being detected. He is extremely voracious, since it literally sucks up all of your data: photographs, videos, contacts, locations, and even your encrypted messages (WhatsApp, Signal …). Nothing escapes him, or almost.
particularly targeted journalists
At the moment, we know that the software has been sold to 55 different countries around the world, including several European countries, and democracies. Among the tens of thousands of numbers that have been revealed, we find for example the numbers of Edwy Plenel (founder of Mediapart, and journalist) and Lénaïg Bredoux (journalist for Mediapart).
Photograph by Edwy Plenel (2008) – AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET.
The writing of Mediapart thus filed a complaint with the Public prosecutor of Paris. Indeed, journalists are particularly targeted by this software, ahead of any other profession. The software was not used by France, but on the other hand, Morocco, which used Pegasus, targeted thousands of French (recognizable by the index +33). Among them are diplomats, senior officials, and some of our elected officials.
From the side journalists, in addition to the two journalists from Mediapart that have been targeted, others have been targeted by different countries around the world:
- Eric Zemmour
- Journalists from World
- Journalists from Chained duck
- Journalists from Figaro
- AFP journalists
- Journalists from France Télévisions
It is to highlight that some of the journalists who were targeted were only used to recover their address book (in order to approach other journalists). Internationally, we also note the number of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi columnist for Washington Post, who was assassinated on October 2 in Turkey.
There are also several numbers of relatives of the Saudi opponent, who were also murdered.
This case, of course, echoes the Snowden affair, but it goes even further in the degree of surveillance achieved. This is a very serious violation of human rights, which goes far beyond simple telephone tapping. It remains to be seen now what will be responses given by countries that have been targeted, to see if it is possible to fight against the software, and, by extension, against NSO Group.
What if the way protects certain policies, some hollywood stars or some shootings interests you, we invite you to discover how security was reinforced on the set of The Mandalorian, to avoid any possible leak.
Source: Hitek : actualité geek et tests high tech by hitek.fr.
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