Israeli spyware allegedly used in Al Jazeera hack

Apparently dozens of workers at Al Jazeera, the Qatari state-owned media company, have been the target of a cyberattack likely linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Cyber Hackers (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cyber Hackers
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli software was allegedly used in a reported cyberattack which targeted the Al Jazeera news network earlier this year according to Al Jazeera.
Apparently, dozens of workers at the Qatari state-owned media company have been the target of a cyberattack likely linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Citizen Lab said Sunday.
The cybersecurity watchdog, based at the University of Toronto, said it traced Pegasus malware that infected the personal phones of 36 journalists, producers, anchors and executives at Al Jazeera back to an Israel-based cybersecurity company named NSO Group.
The company has been widely condemned for selling malware technology to autocratic and repressive governments.
Most unnerving to the investigators was that the iMessages - the messaging system used by IOS - were infecting smartphones without the users’ noticing. This is known as zero-click vulnerability. Through push notifications alone, the malware infected phones and was able to upload their content to servers linked to the NSO Group, Citizen Lab said. This turned journalists’ smartphones into powerful surveillance tools without the user’s knowledge.
For a while now, cybersecurity analysts have warned of the vulnerability of threats to Apple iPhones. The company has promoted their reputation for security after some of their systems were hacked a few years ago. Apple has claimed that its technology is not vulnerable to malware. However, San Francisco-based security firm ZecOps detailed a flaw that it said may have left more than half a billion iPhones vulnerable to hackers.
NSO Group was under scrutiny by Citizen Lab after it was revealed in 2018 that Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident who was close to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, had his phone infected with Israeli NSO Group’s Pegasus software. Pegasus was allegedly used by Saudi authorities to spy on Abdulaziz’s communications with Khashoggi, which led to his capture, murder and dismemberment in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.