NSO Group's Pegasus spyware use: Six African governments named

October 24, 2021 | by: David Kodjani

NSO Group is a major player in the opaque surveillance industry. The Israeli cyber-weapons company is developing best-in-class technology to help government agencies detect and prevent terrorism and crime.

The company's products help licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies legally solve the most dangerous problems in today's world. NSO's technology has helped prevent terrorism, dismantle criminal operations, locate missing persons, and assist search and rescue teams.

It is in this straight line that the group developed the spyware Pegasus. The latter can be installed covertly on mobile phones (and other devices) running most versions of iOS and Android.

The revelations from the Pegasus 2021 project suggest that the current Pegasus software can run all recent versions of iOS up to iOS 14.6. As of 2016, Pegasus was able to read text messages, track calls, collect passwords, track location, access the target device's microphone and camera, and collect information. from apps. The spyware is named after the winged horse from Greek mythology. It is a computer virus Trojan that can be sent "flying through the air" to infect mobile phones.

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A recent survey conducted by Forensic Architecture in collaboration with Amnesty International and Citizen Lab reveals that the Pegasus software has wreaked havoc across the world in the human rights sphere.

Amnesty International's Security Lab and Citizen Lab have repeatedly denounced the use ofPegasus spyware NSO Group'sto attack hundreds of human rights defenders around the world. Amnesty International calls on the NSO Group to urgently take the necessary measures not to cause or contribute to human rights abuses, and to respond to such acts. Cyber ​​surveillance must adequately exercise due human rights due diligence and take the necessary steps to ensure that human rights defenders and journalists are no longer subject to unlawful surveillance.

The Pegasus malware has also reportedly been used by at least six African governments. The DRC, Egypt, Morocco, Uganda, Rwanda and Togo are cited.

The software would have made it possible to spy on the numbers of at least 180 journalists, 600 politicians, 85 human rights activists and 65 business leaders from different countries.

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  • Morocco, cited above, has been accused of using Pegasus on a large scale to spy on not only high figures in the kingdom, including the king himself, but also dissidents and senior political, military and security officials from several states, including France and Algeria.

More serious: the kingdom is accused of spying on nothing less than the cell phone of Emmanuel Macron and some 6,000 personalities of the Algerian military-security complex.

Allegations were obviously rejected and rejected with force by the officials of Morocco, citizens of the Shereefian kingdom and also by certain members of the international community.

  • In Rwanda, Carine Kanimba, the daughter of Paul Rusesabagina (the hero of the film Hotel Rwanda currently in court) was reportedly spied on. The young woman points to the Rwandan authorities.

"The Pegasus software is costing the Rwandan government millions and the decision to wiretap me, to monitor me, when we know that there are a lot of people in Rwanda who are starving, who need medicine, who need attention, who need this money to survive, the Rwandan government prefers to wiretap me ", continues Carine Kanimba.

The software was also used by the Rwandan authorities to spy on Congolese officials including Lambert Mende, Albert Yuma and Jean Bamanisa, reveal the investigations of the International consortium of journalists, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project - (OCCRP).

For their part, the Rwandan authorities have said that "these false accusations are part of an ongoing campaign aimed at provoking tensions between Rwanda and other countries, and sowing disinformation on Rwanda at the national and international levels. . "

  • In Togo, Father Pierre Marie Chanel Affognon, very active in civil society, would also have been tapped.

Like Carine Kanimba, he deplores the huge sums used for espionage by his country. "If citizens and religious men are seen as a potential danger to the nation, I still believe that there is something to be corrected. And then, the cost of this software cannot be minimized! "What has it cost the Togolese taxpayer? A measure of justice would be that those who bought this software can reimburse the Togolese State the sum and that this fund be invested in the social", wishes the man of the Church.

Political side, there is among the issues covered by Pegasus spyware those opponents of the regime.GnassingbeThis is the case of Tikpi Atchadam, leader of the Pan-National Party, or AgbéyoméKodjo, unsuccessful candidate for president in 2020 against the head of state. Both now live in exile activists and journalists were also targeted, such as David EkouéDosseh, founder of the citizen platform Togo Standing or investigative journalist CarlosKetohou.

The group NSO qu i developed the software ensures that its program is only used to obtain intelligence against criminal or terrorist networks.

Michelle Bachelet,UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations called for better "regulation" of the transfer of surveillance technologies.

Source: DW, VOA

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