‘Zero-click’ hacks are becoming more widespread. There is not much that can be done to stop them

Potential victims can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a flood attack to succeed, such as updating their facilities today. However, some more effective methods, such as removing messaging equipment that hackers can use as gateways to hacking a device, are not possible because people depend on them for communication, according to Bill Marczak , a fellow research fellow at Lab Citizen, a Toronto-based research team focused on surveillance technology. Dridi, who lives in London, said the attack caused him to activate some of his social media accounts, isolate himself and raise fears for his safety. “They ruined my life,” Dridi said, suspecting he was targeted because of his coverage of Arab women’s rights.

Human rights groups have linked the technology from the NSO to attacks by governments on individuals or small groups of activists. A 2019 lawsuit by Facebook accused the NSO Group of using hacking methods to install spyware on the devices of 1,400 people who used its WhatsApp service. The NSO has disputed the allegations.

The attacks could make it difficult for security experts to detect and present new challenges for technology giants such as Apple and Google as they seek to plug security loopholes used by hackers. “With deep rivers, it is possible for a phone to be hacked and no trails left anything,” Marczak said. “You can break into the phones of someone who has a good security knowledge. … You do not have to convince them to do anything. It means even the most skeptical, unsuspecting celebrities can spy on. ”

Sometimes a hacking did not go as planned and left traces that researchers could use to identify that a device had been compromised. In Dridi’s case, authorities in Alaraby noticed suspicious activity on their computer networks and followed a digital trail that led them to his phone. The hackers used hacking scams to gain access to a device and then install spyware – such as NSO Group’s Pegasus – to secretly monitor the user. Pegasus can record private emails, phone calls and text messages, track location, and record video and audio with an in-camera camera and microphone.

Marczak and colleagues at Citizen Lab analyzed Dridi’s iPhone XS Max and found evidence that it had been infected at least six times between October 2019 and July 2020 with NSO Group’s Pegasus. At two events in July 2020, Dridi’s phone was targeted at cross-border attacks, concluding the Citizen Lab, which witnessed cuts to the United Arab Emirates government. Dridi is pursuing a lawsuit against the UAE. A spokesman for the UAE Police Department in Washington did not respond to requests for comment. Marczak, from Citizen Lab, said that most of the recorded cases of hacking cases have been traced back to the NSO Team. The company began rolling out the system regularly around 2017, he said.

The NSO group, blacklisted by the US in November for delivering spyware to governments used to spread malicious propaganda against government officials, journalists, business people, activists and others to quell opposition, has said it sells its technology exclusively to governments and law enforcement agencies as a tool to track down terrorists and criminals. “The cyber intelligence site continues to grow and is larger than the NSO Group,” a spokesman for the company said. The spokesman said the NSO had terminated customer relations due to “human rights issues” and would not sell cyber intelligence products to 90 countries.

In December, security researchers at Google analyzed a virus they say was developed by the NSO Group, which could be used to hack into an iPhone by sending someone a fake GIF image via iMessage. The researchers described the hacking as “one of the most technologically advanced uses ever seen,” and added that it showed the NSO had sold the spy tools of “enemies who were previously thought to be present.” some states. ”“ The attacker does not need to send confidential messages; one abuse works silently in the background, ”Google researchers wrote.

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