Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Pegasus Malware from NSO Group Used to Target Human Rights Activists


Today we're going to veer off a little from healthcare and the virus...

The world of surveillance is a murky one, as you can well imagine.  In my early days of tech fascination I didn't really have much of an interest in digital security.  Like many people I figured if I wasn't doing anything to be concerned about, why would I worry about someone seeing what I did online or otherwise. The old adage of "I have nothing to hide" was how I looked at it.

However, with HIPAA and then the proliferation of identity theft and the like, my interest was triggered and I began to pay more attention to the security side of things.  It wasn't all consuming, but it for sure was more than a passing fancy.

My concerns increased when I long ago learned that not only could law enforcement do digital monitoring (however a search warrant was needed) but that there were companies out there who would sell incredibly powerful monitoring software to anyone who had the cash to purchase it.

I had always thought that governments employed cyber experts to create software that they could use to find "bad guys" who needed to be caught.  My naïveté didn't consider that there was money to made in that market.  

As it turns out, smaller countries with less money to spend than the United States, didn't have the financial wherewithal to have cyber teams creating software.  Instead they turned to a dark underworld of 'hackers for hire'.  There were 2 in particular that I began to hear about.  Hacking Team was out of Italy and NSO Group was out of Israel.  Both companies created apps that their clients could use to track users phones.

Those users, it turned out, didn't need to be criminals or terrorists.  No, it turned out that these smaller countries were just as concerned about journalists, politicians, activists, and members of non-governmental charities.

If you are interested in a small part of this, take a look at this Google search on Project Raven.  

Now comes a new breaking news story from The Guardian on NSO Group and their mobile device tracking software called Pegasus.  After a cooperative formed between several different research and news organizations, they have managed to put together a pretty incredible story of just part of what NSO Group and their customers have been up to.  

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