Israel’s NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware was used against Spanish political leaders, including Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles. Their mobile phones were allegedly infected at some point during 2021 with the Pegasus spyware that is generally used by governments for surveillance purposes. Spanish officials said that the breaches led to a “significant” amount of data getting copied by the hackers.
So far a total of 65 people in Spain are said to have been victims of the Pegasus spyware. In addition to NSO Group, Israeli cybersecurity firm Candiru’s software was also allegedly used.
Spanish Presidency Minister Félix Bolaños made the revelations about the NSO Pegasus spyware in a press conference held on Monday. “We have no doubt that this is an illicit, unauthorized intervention,” he said. “It comes from outside state organisms and it didn’t have judicial authorization. In a full democracy like ours, only official bodies are empowered to make interventions and always with judicial authorization.” He added that the matter has been sent to Spain’s courts for investigation.
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Israeli Cybersecurity firm NSO Group develops ways to break through encryptions and security systems. Last July, it was revealed that NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware software aids in the violation of people’s human rights around the world and that the company has known all about this. Specifically, they were charged with helping governments hack the telephones of journalists.
NSO Group was eventually blacklisted by the U.S. government in November. And in December it was reported that NSO Group Pegasus spyware was used to track American embassy employees in East Africa. Specifically, 11 U.S. Embassy employees working in Uganda had their iPhones hacked by the program.
The company’s activities were even felt in Israel itself. In January, a scandal erupted in the country when a report in Calcalist revealed that the Israel Police had hacked the phones of many Israeli citizens, including politicians, without first acquiring the proper court orders for wiretapping as required by law. They allegedly used the Pegasus spyware made by NSO Group, which is widely regarded as one of the most powerful cyber-surveillance tools on the market, enabling operators to practically take complete control of a target’s phone, download any data from it, and activate the device’s camera or microphone without the target’s knowledge.