Dozens of Al Jazeera reporters have targeted an apparent spyware attack for iOS

36 personal phones belonging to Al Jazeera journalists, producers, hosts and executives were hacked in a spyware campaign between July and August 2020, according to a new report from Citizen Lab. The attacks reportedly used Pegasus technology provided by the Israeli company NSO Group and are thought to be the work of four operators. Citizen Lab says it has “medium confidence” that one is working on behalf of the UAE government and another for the Saudi government.

The attacks are troubling not only because they appear to show attacks by politically motivated journalists, but also because they are part of a trend to use increasingly advanced methods that are more difficult to detect. According to Citizen Lab, the attacks appear to have used a zero-click exploit to compromise iPhones via iMessage, meaning the attacks happened without victims having to do anything and leave much less trace once a device is infected. In July 2020, the exploit chain was zero-day.

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