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Massive data leak reveals Israeli NSO group's spyware used to target activists and journalists

Picture courtesy: PortSwigger

NSO Group’s spyware has been used to commit human rights violations around the world on a massive scale, according to a major investigation into the leak of 50,000 phone numbers of potential surveillance targets. These include heads of state, activists, civilians, and journalists, including Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée.

According to the same investigation, human rights activits, journalists and heads of state have been targeted by authoritarian governments, across the world, using hacking a spyware sold by the Israeli surveillance company 'NSO Group'.

The investigation highlights widespread and continuing abuse of NSO's hacking spyware called 'Pegasus' which the company confirms is only intended for use against terrorist groups, drug and human traffickers, and criminals.

Pegasus is a very advanced malware that infects iOS and Android devices to allow operators of the spyware to copy messages, photos, calls and other data, including secretly activate microphones and cameras.

Picture courtesy: PC Mag

Based on the investigation, the leak contains a list of 50,000 phone numbers that have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of NSO since 2016. The list includes many close family members of one country's ruler, suggesting he might have instructed the country's intelligence agencies to explore the possibility of tracking and spying on their own relatives.

The list of governments believed to be NSO customers who were entering numbers into a system: 1- Azerbaijan

2- Bahrain

3- Hungary

4- India

5- Kazakhstan

6- Mexico (more than 15,000 numbers)

7- Morocco (more than 10,000 numbers) 8- Saudi Arabia

9- Rwanda

10- United Arab Emirates (more than 10,000 phone numbers)

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