Whatsapp Bobol Application – WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against Israeli company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking. Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Democracy activists after WhatsApp warned that they were suspected victims of a cyber attack aimed at hacking their phones. More than a dozen journalists and experts spoke.
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The men were reportedly among more than 100 human rights activists believed to have hacked phones using malware sold by Israeli cyberattack firm NSO Group.
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Earlier this week, WhatsApp filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the intelligence firm, alleging that it targeted more than 1,400 users with NSO technology over a two-week period in May.
The California court filing says the attacks are a form of unusual harassment that violates US law.
Two Moroccan democracy activists received a WhatsApp alert warning them that their rights would be severely violated using sophisticated malware called Pegasus.
“I am a strong supporter of democracy in the Middle East of Morocco,” said Aboubakr Jamai, a journalist and former journalist living in France. “Although the Moroccan government is less brutal than the Syrian government, it is still a government capable of using consistently brutal methods against the opposition.”
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Jamai, known internationally as a jailed journalist, added that he is considering his lawsuit against the NSO and other defendants and will consider a class-action trial.
It also issued a warning to Abdellatif El Hammoushi, a 22-year-old human rights activist from Rabat who has been campaigning for the trial of jailed newspaper editor Tofiqa Bouakrenu.
“I really believed that we were under the supervision of the Moroccan authorities, but I was surprised that these attacks came from abroad and involved Israeli companies,” Hamamouchi said.
“We have not heard from NSO since we were informed about this matter and we believe the information they are providing is incorrect.”
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At least six Rwandan dissidents are also believed to have been targeted by Pegasus, according to interviews with the Financial Times.
Among them was Faustin Rukondo, a British citizen who was a member of a Rwandan rebel group and was exiled for fear of the Rwandan security services.
Human rights activists in India 17 people, including academics and journalists, told Scroll.in that they were targeted by spyware on WhatsApp.
NSO said it would fight WhatsApp’s lawsuit in the “strongest terms” but declined to comment further. The company said it could not comment on users or those who have received alerts from WhatsApp.
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The company said it investigates all serious allegations against it and recently adopted a new human rights policy.
“NSO’s sole purpose is to provide technology to government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and crime. “It is not designed or licensed for use. It has saved thousands of lives in recent years,” the company said.
“We believe that the use of our products for purposes other than the prevention of serious crime or terrorism will prevent abuse of contracts.
However, NSO has been accused of misusing its technology. The company is based in Bahrain. Jurisdictions including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reportedly been widely sold.
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The cyberattacks include human rights activists and lawyers, as well as diplomats and government officials, WhatsApp said in the lawsuit.
WhatsApp has not disclosed details about the charges, but Reuters reported on Thursday that the targeted officials were from several US countries.
Pressure on NSO increased when Israeli Security Minister Ze’ev Elkin insisted that the government had no connection to the company.
In a radio interview in Tel Aviv, he said that NSO is a “private company” and that if someone does wrong, “the legal system here or in other countries will bring them to book.” .
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The Indian government has asked WhatsApp to submit a report next week, which it claims has targeted several Indian citizens.
Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, appears to have blocked the accounts of employees of the cyber-weapons company, and some NSO employees have taken to social media to complain. One person called Facebook “the world’s biggest privacy robber.”
“Facebook, you never cease to amaze me,” wrote one manager in a letter published on LinkedIn that was enjoyed by other NSO employees.
“Yesterday my Facebook and Instagram accounts were deleted by the biggest villain in human history, Facebook.”
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Facebook declined to comment, but WhatsApp and its services; He asked the court to issue a strict restraining order (NSO) preventing him from accessing or attempting to access the platforms or software. people slaves Workers.”Disturbingly, Check Point researchers discovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp. This vulnerability could allow an attacker to intercept and manipulate messages sent by users participating in a private newsgroup or group. Doing so gives attackers the power to not only falsify their preferred credentials, but also to create and spread disinformation.
Commenting on the recent findings, Oded Vanunu, Head of Product Vulnerability Research at Check Point, said: WhatsApp is one of the main communication methods available today, used for sensitive communications ranging from corporate secrets and government information to criminal information. Court. “
After a thorough demonstration, Oded’s team communicated their findings on WhatsApp. In Check Point Research’s opinion; These weaknesses are the most important and attract attention.
At the beginning of 2018, more than 1.5 billion users of the Facebook messaging application; Over 1 billion groups and 65 billion messages sent daily. In addition, WhatsApp also plans to release other features for businesses that will allow them to manage business transactions and manage customer support through the app. The aforementioned vulnerabilities create many opportunities for fraud.
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Due to its nature as a simple and fast method of communication, WhatsApp is at the center of various scams. From fake supermarket and airline deliveries to election manipulation. Threat actors never tire of manipulating unsuspecting users.
In fact, The potential for large-scale social engineering has already been demonstrated at a level that endangers human lives. News of the dangers of yellow fever vaccination in Brazil spread quickly on WhatsApp. A yellow fever vaccine prevented an outbreak that infected 1,500 people and killed 500.
Recently, Earlier this week, a gruesome message went viral via WhatsApp, leading to many killings and murders of innocent victims in India.
WhatsApp is playing an important role in elections, especially in developing countries. Earlier this year, WhatsApp was also used to send messages in India, some of which were very fake.
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Finally, Social engineering is about tricking and manipulating users into doing something they will regret later. As found in this study, hackers manipulate responses; to write messages; Hackers are most successful if you have access to another weapon, sending private messages disguised as group messages.
In addition, The larger the WhatsApp group, the The more frequent messages you send, Therefore, members do not have time to double-check every message to ensure its authenticity, nor do they have time. or want. Double check. Each message to verify its authenticity. You can lie. . As we’ve seen with spam emails that spoof the sender’s name from a source the recipient trusts. This new vulnerability can use similar methods from a different attack vector.
Although there are no security products that can protect you from these scams, fake news There are a few things to keep in mind to avoid scams and online scams.
If it’s too good to be true, it is. Likewise, If something is too funny, That is possible.
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Misinformation spreads faster than the truth. You may find the same reports from multiple sources, but they are never closer to the truth than a single source.
Check your “info”. It’s a good idea to check what you see on social media with a simple online search to see what others are up to.
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