Palestinian Authority Alleges Israeli Malware Spied on Officials
i24 News – The Palestinian Foreign Ministry alleged on Thursday it found evidence of NSO Group malware on the phones of three top officials, and said Israel was using the Pegasus exploit to spy on them.
Ahmed al-Deek, the assistant Palestinian foreign minister for political affairs, said “we are 100 percent sure that these three phones were hacked,” according to the Associated Press.
Traces of the exploit were initially discovered after a “professional Palestinian institution” examined the phones, Deek detailed.
It is currently unknown if the foreign ministry’s findings were verified by external analysts, AP reported.
Earlier this week, Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, and Front Line Defenders reported that the Pegasus exploit was also present on the phones of six Palestinian activists.
Pegasus, spyware originally developed by Israel-based tech firm NSO Group, is a zero-click exploit that requires no input from the user to infect and surveil devices.
The company came under fire after its surveillance software was reportedly found on the devices of dozens of activists, journalists, and politicians, including heads of state, from around the world.
NSO Group was sanctioned, along with another spyware company called Candiru, by the United States Commerce Department on Nov. 3.
The department said it blacklisted the two firms for supplying foreign governments with surveillance technology which was used to “maliciously target” certain figures, according to an official press release.