Our forensic analysis of two iPhones belonging to Hubbard found evidence of Pegasus infections in July 2020 and June 2021. Notably, these infections occurred after Hubbard reported in January 2020 that we found that he was targeted in 2018 by the Saudi Arabia-linked Pegasus operator that we call KINGDOM.
While analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage. The exploit, which we call FORCEDENTRY, targets Apple’s image rendering library, and was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices.
لقد حددنا تسعة نشطاء بحرينيين تم اختراق أجهزتهم الآيفون باستخدام برنامج تجسس “Pegasus” من NSO Group في الفترة ما بين يونيو 2020 و فبراير 2021. بعض النشطاء قد تم اختراقهم باستغلال ثغرتين zero-click في iMessage, كنا قد سمينا الثغرتين التي تم اكتشافها في 2020 ب KISMET، أما الثغرة المستخدمة في 2021 فنسميها FORCEDENTRY
We identified nine Bahraini activists whose iPhones were successfully hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware between June 2020 and February 2021. The hacked activists included three members of Waad (a secular Bahraini political society), three members of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, two exiled Bahraini dissidents, and one member of Al Wefaq (a Shiite Bahraini political society).
Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International requested that the Citizen Lab undertake an independent peer review of a sample of their forensic evidence and their general forensic methodology. We were provided with iTunes backups of several devices and a separate methodology brief, and independently validated that Amnesty International’s forensic methodology correctly identified infections with NSO’s Pegasus spyware.
في شهري يوليو وأغسطس 2020 استخدم عملاءٌ حكوميون برنامج التجسس بيغاسوس “Pegasus” من مجموعة “NSO” لاختراق 36 هاتفاً شخصياً لصحفيين ومنتجين ومراسلين و مدراء تنفيذيين في قناة الجزيرة. كما تم اختراق هاتف صحفية في قناة العربي، التي مقرها لندن.
Government operatives used NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to hack 36 personal phones belonging to journalists, producers, anchors, and executives at Al Jazeera. The journalists were hacked by four Pegasus operators, including one operator MONARCHY that we attribute to Saudi Arabia, and one operator SNEAKY KESTREL that we attribute to the United Arab Emirates.
Circles is a surveillance firm that reportedly exploits weaknesses in the global mobile phone system to snoop on calls, texts, and the location of phones around the globe, and is affiliated with NSO Group, which develops the oft-abused Pegasus spyware. Using Internet scanning, we found a unique signature associated with the hostnames of Check Point firewalls used in Circles deployments, enabling us to identify Circles deployments in at least 25 countries.
This annotated bibliography compiles and summarizes relevant literature on “digital transnational repression” (i.e., where states seek to exert pressure—using digital tools—on citizens living abroad in order to constrain, limit, or eliminate political or social action that threatens regime stability or social and cultural norms within the country). While transnational repression itself is not a new phenomenon, there has been limited research on how such repression is enabled and expanded by digital tools.
This submission outlines Canadian technology companies and the threat they pose to human rights abroad, as well as suggests mechanisms the Government of Canada’s RBC strategy can adopt to address the harmful impacts of Canadian-made technology.