New Analysis Reveals Pegasus Spyware Link and Jamal Khashoggi's Death


BabyBear2021/12/22 18:46
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New forensic analysis shows that representatives from the government of the United Arab Emirates installed Pegasus spyware on the phone of Hanan Elatr, wife of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

New Analysis Reveals Pegasus Spyware Link and Jamal Khashoggi's Death

New Analysis Reveals Pegasus Spyware Link and Jamal Khashoggi's Death

 


New forensic analysis shows that representatives from the government of the United Arab Emirates installed Pegasus spyware on the phone of Hanan Elatr, wife of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The analysis was carried out by Toronto-based privacy and security research laboratory Citizen Lab, which found that the installation took place months before Khashoggi was killed.

Forensic reports from two Android phones belonging to Elatr revealed that an unknown person used one of the phones to visit the website and upload the Pegasus spyware. This comes after security agents at Dubai airport confiscated a cell phone from Elatr. "The website is controlled by the NSO Group—the developer of the Pegasus spyware—on behalf of a customer in the United Arab Emirates," reads further analysis from Citizen Lab, Tuesday, December 21, 2021. The NSO Group has denied that its spyware was used to target Khashoggi or his associates, including Hanan Elatr, but Citizen Lab's analysis makes it hard to believe that claim. Mobile numbers belonging to Elatr and Khashoggi's Turkish fiancé, Hatice Cengiz, were also found in a list of 50,000 numbers in a data leak that revealed a potential target for the Pegasus spyware—though this alone does not confirm the targeted number has been compromised.

The leaks are part of a larger investigation by a worldwide media coalition. The investigation, dubbed the Pegasus Project, revealed the broad targeting of journalists, activists, politicians, and including heads of state around the world. The list contains numbers belonging to hundreds of other government officials, and a total of 180 journalists from media outlets, including CNN, New York Times, Bloomberg, Le Monde, and El Pais are also included. A cell phone number belonging to French President Emmanuel Macron was among the numbers on the list, along with others belonging to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The deep technical sophistication of the surveillance exploit developed by the NSO Group was recently revealed in a blog report from Project Zero, Google's security research group. The post details a 'zero-click' exploit for iMessage in which a target's phone can be compromised simply by sending them an SMS message containing a link, without needing the target to open or read the message.

As a spyware company, NSO Group's operations have long been shrouded in secrecy. However, with growing evidence of the company's willingness to help repressive and authoritarian regimes around the world—including overseeing American officials in some cases—the American government has begun to take action against the Israeli company.


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