Al-Jazeera reported that their staff and journalists were targeted using Israel-based NSO Group software this year.
According to Citizen Lab’s researchers at the University of Toronto, the NSO Group Pegasus software infected the mobile phones of 36 journalists, producers, anchors and executives from Al-Jazeera.
Citizen Lab researchers explained that the Pegasus spyware made iPhone devices vulnerable if users were using an operating system that have not updated to Apple’s iOS 14 system.
The spyware reportedly uses iMessages to infect cellphones using a zero-click vulnerability which forces infected phones to upload their content to servers linked to the NSO Group.
Citizen Lab suspected that the attack was perpetrated by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who are having diplomatic tensions with Qatar.
Tamer Almisshal, Al Jazeera Arabic’s investigative journalist, an investigation was launched regarding the death threats from unknown senders were received on a phone that was used to call ministries in the UAE for a story.
“They threatened to make me the new Jamal Kashoggi. Based on this, we handed the phone to Citizen Lab, who found that the phone was hacked by spyware called Pegasus, which is developed by NSO, an Israeli company,” said Almisshal.
The NSO Group denied knowledge of the allegations and defended that they do not have access to any information to the identities of those being targeted by their clients.
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