Spyware used by Palestine ministry of foreign affairs compromises phones and computers of international group

Two staff members of a Palestinian nonprofit who worked at two offices used by the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs have confirmed that their mobiles have been infected with Pegasus spyware, potentially compromising the data of other employees and those communicating with them.

The administrators of the two websites confirmed in separate interviews with The New York Times that the two staffers had been infected by Pegasus. The organization said it had been notified of the breach, but did not name the institutions, which it had offered to meet with the group to discuss security practices, having concluded the entities could not be trusted.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Times that it was taking measures to ensure the phones of its employees were not affected, but did not address whether there had been any exposure of other staffers’ data.

Carlo Rovelli, director of the Computational Privacy Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Times that his findings about the infections would be “far more concerning” if the phones had also infected computers or were used to spy on activists. He added that these types of breaches could lead to increased infiltration of human rights organizations across the Middle East.

The links between the NGO and those behind the crime are unclear. A spokesman for Pegasus said that it had not been used by anyone working for the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that those responsible would be held accountable.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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