Here is an offer many governments cannot refuse: do you want to hack into the phones of journalists, gather every bit of data and trace every call, message and keystroke?
Those governments are in luck, as there is some malware – malicious software – designed specifically for that purpose.
This story starts with an Israeli company called the NSO Group. It says it is in the business of “cyber-intelligence for global security and stability”.
The company’s primary product is known as Pegasus – a programme so sophisticated that it can embed into your mobile phone through just a phone call – even if you do not take the call.
The governments that use Pegasus – from Saudi Arabia to Mexico to India – say they are out to stop “security threats” but it is also used against civil society, including human rights activists.
And in October, WhatsApp sent the NSO Group a clear message: it is suing the company for developing Pegasus to specifically hack people’s devices through that messaging app.
The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi looks into the growing surveillance threat against journalists and the malware of choice for the governments involved.
Ron Deibert – director, The Citizen Lab
Yahya Assiri – director, ALQST & Diwan
Shubhranshu Choudhary – founder, Bultoo Radio
Silkie Carlo – director, Big Brother Watch
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