Will Cathcart claims government officials around the world among 1,400 WhatsApp users targeted in 2019
Senior government officials around the world – including individuals in high national security positions who are “allies of the US” – were targeted by governments with NSO Group spyware in a 2019 attack against 1,400 WhatsApp users, according to the messaging app’s chief executive.
Will Cathcart disclosed the new details about individuals who were targeted in the attack after revelations this week by the Pegasus project, a collaboration of 17 media organisations which investigated NSO, the Israeli company that sells its powerful surveillance software to government clients around the world.
What is in the data leak?
Related: How does Apple technology hold up against NSO spyware?
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The Pegasus project has raised new concerns about the Israeli firm, which is a world leader in the niche surveillance market
In 2019, when NSO Group was facing intense scrutiny, new investors in the Israeli surveillance company were on a PR offensive to reassure human rights groups.
In an exchange of public letters in 2019, they told Amnesty International and other activists that they would do “whatever is necessary” to ensure NSO’s weapons-grade software would only be used to fight crime and terrorism.
What is in the data leak?
The Pegasus project is a collaborative journalistic investigation into the NSO Group and its clients. The company sells surveillance technology to governments worldwide. Its flagship product is Pegasus, spying software – or spyware – that targets iPhones and Android devices. Once a phone is infected, a Pegasus operator can secretly extract chats, photos, emails and location data, or activate microphones and cameras without a user knowing.
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Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner reflects on our recent investigation into NSO Group, which sells hacking spyware used by governments around the world, and explains why journalism like this is so vital
When the Guardian’s head of investigations, Paul Lewis, first told me about a huge data leak suggesting authoritarian regimes were possibly using smartphone hacking software to target activists, politicians and journalists, perhaps the worst part is that I wasn’t particularly surprised.
Related: What is Pegasus spyware and how does it hack phones?
Related: Huge data leak shatters lie that the innocent need not fear surveillance
Related: The Pegasus project part 1: an invitation to Paris
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Related: How you helped the Guardian report on the year that changed everything | Katharine Viner
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Computer equipment and electronic devices seized in connection with images of minister kissing aide
Two residential properties in the south of England have been raided by data protection officers, as part of their investigation into who leaked CCTV footage of Matt Hancock kissing an aide in his office.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said they had seized computer equipment and electronic devices as part of the operation on Thursday morning, amid an ongoing investigation into alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act.
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US firm Emcor offers ‘facilities management’ at sensitive sites, including DHSC and RAF bases
A firm that provided security at Matt Hancock’s office, where leaked CCTV footage showed him kissing an aide, has also worked at the Porton Down defence research laboratory, RAF bases, and a military bunker that would house ministers in the event of a nuclear strike.
Labour called for an immediate audit of government contracts after documents reviewed by the Guardian showed that Emcor provided “facilities management” services at a range of highly sensitive sites, as well as the health department (DHSC).
Related: Ministers should not have cameras in their offices, Sajid Javid says
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Analysis: UK prides itself on GCHQ’s cyber capability – so availability of Dominic Raab’s number will have been embarrassing for him
Finding Dominic Raab’s mobile phone online is more than just embarrassing for the foreign secretary: it also represents a security risk, just as when it emerged Boris Johnson’s number could be easily found online in April.
Sophisticated spyware technology – of the type available to a rapidly growing number of governments outside the west – can, in some circumstances, be secretly inserted into a person’s phone without any interaction from the target.
Related: Dominic Raab’s mobile number freely available online for last decade
Related: Dominic Raab bodyguard suspended after gun reportedly left on plane
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Exclusive: Finding raises questions for security services weeks after similar revelations about PM’s number
The private mobile number of Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has been online for at least 11 years, raising questions for the security services weeks after the prime minister’s number was also revealed to be accessible to anyone.
Raab’s number was discovered by a Guardian reader using a Google search. It appears to have been online since before he became an MP in 2010, and remained after he became foreign secretary and first secretary of state – de facto deputy prime minister – in 2019.
Related: For UK foreign secretary, simply having a mobile represents a security risk
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The justice secretary has signalled that ministerial security may have been compromised as he called for regular security sweeps for cameras in ministers’ offices after the Matt Hancock scandal. Hancock resigned as health secretary after CCTV footage from his departmental office showing him kissing his senior aide was leaked to the press
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Justice secretary Robert Buckland calls for regular sweeps for hidden cameras in government offices
The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, has signalled that ministerial security may have been compromised as he called for regular security sweeps for cameras in ministers’ offices after the Matt Hancock scandal.
Hancock resigned as health secretary on Saturday following the leak of CCTV images from his departmental office showing him kissing his senior aide Gina Coladangelo.
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Controversial antivirus software pioneer who entered US politics and became a fugitive from justice
As the inventor of the antivirus software that bears his name, John McAfee, who has died aged 75 after apparently taking his own life in a Spanish prison, turned paranoia into a fortune. He was one of the first successful self-promoting celebrity millionaires whose power and media exposure provide untold influence in the US.
Moving from computer savant to spiritual guru, he then began an extended second act in Belize, where his outsized lifestyle fuelled his own personal paranoia, and led to his becoming the leading suspect in the murder of a beachfront neighbour.
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