New Spyware Targets iOS and Android Users
The malware has been used to target people in Italy, Kazakhstan and Syria
In hearings this week, the notorious spyware vendor NSO group told European legislators that at least five EU countries have used its powerful Pegasus surveillance malware. But as ever more comes to light about the reality of how NSO's products have been abused around the world, researchers are also working to raise awareness that the surveillance-for-hire industry goes far beyond one company. On Thursday, Google's Threat Analysis Group and Project Zero vulnerability analysis team published findings about the iOS version of a spyware product attributed to the Italian developer RCS Labs.
Google researchers say they detected victims of the spyware in Italy and Kazakhstan on both Android and iOS devices. Last week, the security firm Lookout published findings about the Android version of the spyware, which it calls “Hermit” and also attributes to RCS Labs. Lookout notes that Italian officials used a version of the spyware during a 2019 anti-corruption probe. In addition to victims located in Italy and Kazakhstan, Lookout also found data indicating that an unidentified entity used the spyware for targeting in northeastern Syria.
“Google has been tracking the activities of commercial spyware vendors for years, and in that time we have seen the industry rapidly expand from a few vendors to an entire ecosystem,” TAG security engineer Clement Lecigne tells WIRED. “These vendors are enabling the proliferation of dangerous hacking tools, arming governments that would not be able to develop these capabilities in-house. But there is little or no transparency into this industry, that's why it's critical to share information about these vendors and their capabilities.”
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