NSO allegedly hacked Bahrain human rights activists phones


The mobile phones of nine human activists in Bahrain have been breached by the Pegasus spyware of the Israeli company, Canada's Citizens Lab claims.

The mobile phones of nine human activists in Bahrain have been breached by the Pegasus spyware of Israeli company NSO Group, according to researchers at Citizens Lab at the University of Toronto, AP reports.

The researchers reported that the phones of the human rights activists were breached between June 2020 and February 2021. The activists include members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and two political dissidents living in exile - one of them in London.

Citizen Lab said it has "high confidence" that at least four of the activists were hacked by the Bahraini government, which has a history of using spyware.

The Bahrain government declined to comment on the report.

Citizen Lab found that the malware infected the targeted iPhones without the users taking any action - what’s called zero-click vulnerability. Citizen Lab said that there is no indication that the bugs that made the breach possible have been repaired in the latest update by Apple's operating system.

NSO said, "The fact that Citizen Lab again chose to brief the media instead of working in a constructive way with NSO regarding alleged malicious use, proves that they are more interested in public relations than genuinely attempting to improve the security of the public. We have no received data from Citizen Lab, despite previous efforts to work with them, and it would certainly be irresponsible to respond based on third party rumors.

NSO continued, "That said with the fragments of information we have received by contacting the media, we again see that Citizen Lab has again recycled information that has no technological logic and cannot be connected to NSO or our customers that are operating our life saving technology. The range of dates given in the report that we have not seen was 2020-2021. The range of dates in the Forbidden Stories (Amnesty) report that has never been verified was 2017-2018- a clear sign that we are talking about more groundless allegations. As always NSO on receiving credible data about malicious use of its system will investigate strenuously the allegations and work accordingly on the basis of the findings."

An investigative report was published last month by 17 news organizations, among them "The Guardian," "Le Monde," and "The Washington Post," based on leaked records containing more than 50,000 telephone numbers. According to the report, NSO's Pegasus spyware was used to hack dozens of smartphones of journalists, human rights activists, businesspeople, and even of the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was murdered in Turkey on the orders of the Saudi Arabian crown prince.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 24, 2021

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

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