New York Times journalist hacked, researchers suspect Saudi Arabia of having used notorious Pegasus malware — RT World News

Ben Hubbard, a New York Times reporter, had his phone stolen on multiple occasions. Cybersecurity researchers believe that the attack was carried out by Saudi Arabia. The hackers reportedly used the notorious Israeli-made ‘Pegasus’ spyware.

Hubbard was a Middle East reporter and wrote that the first hacking attempt on his smartphone came in 2018 after he got a notification. “suspicious”Text message in Arabic inviting Hubbard to protest at the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC. Hubbard received a similar message, which was confirmed by CitizenLab digital rights group. Hubbard also got a second message. Both messages were sent from servers previously used for targeting Saudi activists. is also available
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Two more attempts followed in 2020 and 2021, but they were so-called ‘zero-click’ exploits, meaning Hubbard would not have had to click on any links or messages to allow the hackers into his phone. These attempts were successful, and once inside Hubbard’s smartphone, the hackers were able to view all its contents, surreptitiously activate his microphone and camera, and delete traces of their previous hacks.

“Picture a thief breaking back into a jewelry store he had robbed to erase fingerprints,” Hubbard wrote. 

CitizenLab’s researchers told Hubbard the hackers likely used ‘Pegasus’ malware all four times. Pegasus, a highly sophisticated hacking tool, was developed by NSO Group in Israel and sold to high-ranking state clients all over the globe. The clients were identified by Human Rights activists from India, Saudi Arabia, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rival politicians and foreign governments were among those targeted. Journalists, journalists and activists as well as legal and business leaders were also reported to be targets. Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum used the malware to hack his ex-wife’s phone, the Moroccan government reportedly used it to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s administration is accused of deploying the malware against the Hungarian media. also available
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NSO Group denied that its software was used to hack Hubbard’s phone. It claimed that it had not been able to hack Hubbard’s phone in 2018. The Israeli firm also stated that Saudi officials were unable to hack Hubbard in 2020 or 2021 due unspecified factors. “technical and contractual reasons and restrictions.”

Saudi Arabia’s use of NSO Group’s malware was canceled by the company in 2018 following the murder of anti-government journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but NSO resumed business with the Kingdom the following year, adding some restrictions to Riyadh’s use of the hacking software, The Times reported. NSO Group had earlier this year stated that it was discontinuing its use of NSO Group’s malware. “technology was not associated in any way with the heinous murder”Khashoggi, and it was not used “listen, monitor, track, or collect information regarding him or his family members.”

The Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment on Hubbard’s article. Riyadh had previously denied using Pegasus for monitoring phone calls. There have been numerous reports that the Kingdom did use the software to target journalists.

CitizenLab reports that three dozen journalists working for Al Jazeera, a Qatari-funded news channel, had their phones stolen by Saudi intelligence last year. also available
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NSO Group, amid a worldwide outcry about the use its products, has tried to minimize its customers and targets while insisting that their products can be used in legitimate law enforcement investigations. It also claimed that multiple business relationships were ended due to alleged human rights violations. 

It now claims it would like to assist in regulation of the surveillance software that made it so rich. A September 30th letter sent to United Nations, the Israeli firm proposed to be an a “constructive participant”Building an “international legal framework”Regulating government and private telephone snooping.

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