WhatsApp users targeted by spyware via in-app phone call

14 Mai, 2019, 09:42 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • WhatsApp discovered the vulnerability earlier this week and has issued a security advisory asking its users to update the app

That said, the company is reportedly still investigating the number of phones that were targeted.

Citizen Lab, the Canadian non-profit that helps monitor the spread of Pegasus and its ilk, said someone tried to use the VoIP exploit as late as Sunday night to infect a UK-based human rights' lawyer's phone as Facebook engineers in London and San Francisco raced to push out patched versions of their software.

The code could be transmitted even if users did not answer their phones and a log of the call often disappeared, the Financial Times reported.

NSO pitches its software to Middle Eastern intelligence agencies, and rights activists in the region have previously received text messages attempting to install Pegasus on their devices.

The popular messaging service said "an advanced cyber actor" infected an unknown number of people with the malware, which was discovered in early May.

The WhatsApp spokesman said the attack had "all the hallmarks of a private company that has been known to work with governments to deliver spyware that has the ability to take over mobile phone operating systems".

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Who is behind the software?

NSO limits sales of its spyware, Pegasus, to state intelligence agencies. The lawyer, who was not identified by name, is involved in a lawsuit against NSO brought by a group of Mexican journalists, government critics and a Saudi Arabian dissident. The company has said it obeys applicable laws. We investigate any credible allegations of misuse and if necessary, we take action, including shutting down the system.

"Under no circumstances would NSO be involved in the operating or identifying of targets of its technology, which is exclusively operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies", the Israeli company said in a statement. The vulnerability affects both Android and iOS devices, and does not need the recipient to actually pick up the call for the spyware to be installed.

"NSO would not, or could not, use its technology in its own right to target any person or organisation, including this individual (the United Kingdom lawyer)".

On Monday, Amnesty International - which said a year ago that one its staffers was also targeted with the spyware - said it would join in a legal bid to force Israel's Defense Ministry to suspend NSO's export license.

On Tuesday, a Tel Aviv court will hear a petition led by Amnesty International that calls for Israel's Ministry of Defence to revoke the NSO Group's licence to export its products. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

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