Nine State Department Phones Hijacked by Spyware
According to recent reports, nine US State Department officials had their iPhones remotely hacked by spyware developed by the highly controversial NSO Group. NSO Group is an Israeli firm that is responsible for creating the Pegasus spyware used to snoop on US government victims, world leaders, activists, and other individuals for months. The company currently faces a lawsuit with Apple. Although the identity of the hacker is unknown, the State Department individuals were based in Uganda or working on projects concerning it. Apple allegedly notified the victims, stating that it was part of a wider effort to alert global customers whose devices had been compromised by the NSO-developed “ForcedEntry” exploit.
The exploit allowed attackers to remotely hack smartphones and install Pegasus without any need for user interaction. Unfortunately, it seems as though the State Department staffers were able to be compromised in the incident as they were using phones not registered in the US. The NSO Group has stated that the Pegasus software is installed based on phone numbers only and that the software is incapable of being installed on US-based numbers.