Downing Street Targeted with Pegasus Spyware Linked to UAE

A Canadian investigative group said that Downing Street and the Foreign Office computer systems were suspected to have been infected with the Pegasus spyware. 

Citizen Lab said the Pegasus infection at Downing Street could be linked to the United Arab Emirates. 

The Israeli-based company, NSO Group, claimed it only sold Pegasus to selected governments for legitimate law enforcement and intelligence purposes against criminals or terrorists.

According to reports, Pegasus would allow operators to take control of people’s phones, extract data and carry out surveillance by infecting phones with malicious software.

Meanwhile, Citizen Lab said it identified at least 65 individuals targeted or infected, including members of the European Parliament, Catalan presidents, legislators, jurists, and members of civil society organizations.

Citizen Lab also said that the suspected Foreign Office infections were believed to be linked to operators of Pegasus in the United Arab Emirates, India, Cyprus, and Jordan.

Previous investigations by a consortium of journalists claimed that around 400 UK phone numbers appeared in a leaked list of numbers linked to NSO Group between 2017 and 2019.

However, reports said NSO Group ended its contract with the UAE last year following claims that Pegasus had been used by the ruler of Dubai, UAE, to hack his ex-wife’s phone amongst others.

“NSO continues to be targeted by a number of politically motivated advocacy organizations, like Citizens Labs and Amnesty, to produce inaccurate and unsubstantiated reports based on vague and incomplete information,” a spokesperson for NSO Group said.

“We have repeatedly co-operated with governmental investigations, where credible allegations merit,” the spokesperson added.

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