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.
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Two days after the murder of award-winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, two of his colleagues began receiving text messages laden with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. To date, 24 targets of Pegasus have been identified in Mexico. This case additionally illustrates an alarming trend of spyware attacks around the world specifically aimed at journalists.
Several Citizen Lab reports have highlighted the digital threats that journalists face. In the past year alone, we’ve investigated three separate cases where journalists and news outlets have been the targets of online harassment, manipulation, and persecution.
Uncovering an operation using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware and Trident exploit framework to target Mexican journalists, lawyers, and even a minor child.
The research findings documented in this report suggest that Hacking Team may have continued to provide updated versions of its spyware to the same attacker who have targeted ESAT journalists based in the United States in 2014, despite reports of use of the spyware against journalists.
In this report, we identified three instances where Ethiopian journalist group ESAT was targeted with spyware in the space of two hours by a single attacker. In each case the spyware appeared to be RCS (Remote Control System), programmed and sold exclusively to governments by Milan-based Hacking Team.
December 2-6, 2013
Brave journalists have defied court orders and have even been jailed rather than compromise their ethical duty to protect sources. But as governments increasingly record their citizens’ every communication — even wiretapping journalists and searching their computers — the safety of anonymous sources will depend not only on journalists’ ethics, but on their computer skills.
“CASABLANCA — After the Moroccan journalist Ali Lmrabet wrote about the king’s real estate holdings in 2001, he was tried in court on defamation charges and the article cost him his career: His satirical magazine, Demain, a symbol of the independent press, was shut down.
In 2003, he spent eight months in prison for “offending the monarchy,” and in 2005 he was barred from practicing journalism for 10 years for “threatening territorial integrity” and Demain was closed.
Now, the Internet has allowed him to make a comeback as the editor of the news site Demain Online.”
From The New York Times