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WhatsApp exploited to spy on US government officials, journalists and activists

Another day, another hack.

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Image: Unsplash

As reported by Reuters, United States government officials located in 21 US-allied countries were targets of hacking and spying through WhatsApp. An internal investigation within the app found that the tools being used for the cyberattacks were from the NSO Group. The majority of the attacks were through the officials’ smartphones.

The officials were not only in the US, but in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Mexico, and Pakistan, among other countries. Several Indian journalists and human rights activists were also victims of hacks with NSO’s tools being used by the assailants.

This might go without saying; the hacking of government officials through something like WhatsApp is…not good and could have widespread problems.

The hacking tools of the NSO Group have been a thorn in WhatsApp’s side

Earlier this week, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against the Israel-based software tool developer. WhatsApp states that NSO has created and sold a hacking platform exclusively to use for the app. On the other hand, NSO states they have only developed these tools for government officials to combat cyberthreats.

However, upon further inspection from independent research firm CitizenLab, the tools have been used against journalists and protesters in authoritarian countries. John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the firm, says that it’s not uncommon to see this kind of activity.

It is an open secret that many technologies branded for law enforcement investigations are used for state-on-state and political espionage.

WhatsApp has said they sent notifications to the hacking victims, warning them of what happened and what is to come.

Another day, another hacking.

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