According to Canada’s Citizens Lab, the Israeli spy company NSO Group’s Pegasus malware penetrated the mobile phones of nine human rights activists in Bahrain.
In their analysis, the researchers stated with “high confidence” that between June 2020 and February 2021, Bahraini government hackers gained access to the phones of at least four human rights advocates.
Bahrain’s administration did not respond to AP’s request for comment on the article.
According to Citizen Lab, the malware penetrated the targeted iPhones without the users taking any action – what’s called zero-click vulnerability.
Citizen Lab claims that Apple’s latest operating system upgrade did not fix the faults that enabled the attack.
Last month, 17 news organizations, including “The Guardian,” “Le Monde,” and “The Washington Post,” published an investigative article based on leaked records comprising more than 50,000 telephone numbers. According to the study, NSO’s Pegasus spyware was used to hack dozens of journalists, human rights activists, and businesspeople’s devices, as well as the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist assassinated in Turkey on the orders of the Saudi crown prince.
“The fact that Citizen Lab chose to brief the media again rather than engage in constructive dialogue with NSO over alleged malicious use shows that they are more concerned with public relations than with really wanting to improve public security,” NSO stated.
“We have not received data from Citizen Lab, despite previous attempts to collaborate with them, and responding solely on third-party speculations would certainly be inappropriate.
“That said, based on the bits of material we have obtained through media contacts, we notice that Citizen Lab has recycled information that lacks technological logic and cannot be attributed to NSO or our clients who use our life-saving technology,” NSO continued.
“The study specified a date range of 2020-2021, which we have not observed. The dates in the Forbidden Stories (Amnesty) report that have never been validated are 2017-2018, indicating that we are dealing with additional baseless charges. As always, if NSO receives valid information about malicious use of its system, it will vigorously investigate the charges and act in accordance with the results.”