You might not know it, but NSO Group is far from the only company to offer its tailor-made mobile hacking services. A new survey signed by Citizen Lab thus reveals the extent of another program of its kind, called… Predator. You can not make that up. Its developer? A company by the name of Cytrox, also based not surprisingly in Israel.
The software has already claimed several important victims, including a political refugee and a TV presenter, both Egyptian. Ayman Nour, of the ruling opposition, was even reportedly monitored by several government actors at the same time. Its operating system at the time was iOS, yet sold by its publisher as more secure than Android alternatives.
Several countries already customers!
According to Citizen Lab’s investigations, no less than eight states have so far got their hands on Predator, their precise motivations obviously still to be defined. Those responsible here would be Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, Serbia, Greece, Madagascar, Armenia, Indonesia and therefore Egypt. So many regions where authoritarian abuses are commonplace.
The method used by this spyware to hack the journalist’s iPhone is apparently the same as the one used to access Jeff Bezos’ content. As a reminder, this is a simple WhatsApp message from a stranger and containing a corrupted link. On which the target has clicked, which it is totally inadvisable to do in this kind of case. But it is not always easy to know it from generation to generation …
What data is at risk?
The Citizen Lab report explains that many Apple services are accessible by Predator, including the proprietary Safari browser, the App Store, Maps and even more sensitive ones like Camera and Mail. Worse: some supposedly end-to-end encrypted mailboxes such as Signal and Telegram are also affected, a sign that even such alternatives are never 100% secure.
If you are also worried about one day being scanned by a spyware program, be aware that there are some strategies to guard against possible negative consequences. Find it right here.