Powerful Pegasus Spyware Found on Device Number 10 in UAE-Linked Infection

Powerful spyware linked to an operator in the United Arab Emirates, which could have enabled 24-hour surveillance of messages, photos and calls, was found on a device connected to Number 10’s network, it was claimed.

The alarming cyber security breach is said to have occurred on July 7, 2020, almost a year after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.

According to the researchers, the Israeli-created spyware known as Pegasus was also suspected of infecting phones connected to the Foreign Office on at least five occasions between July 2020 and June last year.

These were linked to operators in the United Arab Emirates, India, Cyprus and Jordan.

The infection of a Number 10 device was revealed by an investigative journalist working for the New Yorker magazine.

They reported that several phones were tested in Downing Street, including those of the prime minister, but that officials at Britain’s National Cyber ​​Security Center were unable to locate the infected device and the nature of the data that might have been stolen was never determined.

“When we found case No10, my jaw dropped,” John Scott-Railton, principal investigator at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab center, told the magazine.

He claimed that the UK had been “underestimating the threat of Pegasus” and had been “spectacularly burned”.

Bill Marczak, another lead investigator, added: “We suspect this included data exfiltration.”

It has been claimed that powerful spyware known as Pegasus was used to infect a network connected device at 10 Downing Street.

It has been claimed that powerful spyware known as Pegasus was used to infect a network connected device at 10 Downing Street.

Boris Johnson visited the United Arab Emirates last month in a bid to encourage Middle Eastern states to increase their oil production as Western nations seek to decouple from Russian supplies.

Boris Johnson visited the United Arab Emirates last month in a bid to encourage Middle Eastern states to increase their oil production as Western nations seek to decouple from Russian supplies.

Pegasus was developed by the Israeli company NSO Group and is known to have the ability to infect billions of phones running iOS or Android operating systems.

Once Pegasus is on a person’s device, it can copy messages that are sent or received, collect photos, record phone calls, or even secretly film the user through the phone’s camera, or record conversations by activating the microphone.

Israeli bug secretly taking over your phone

Pegasus spy software gives hackers a terrifying level of access to a mobile phone without the victim having the slightest idea that it has been hacked.

A malicious user can extract data, including passwords, contacts, browsing history, and social media posts, knowing where the phone is, where it has been, and whether it is on the move.

The hacker can also see incoming or outgoing calls and, perhaps most chillingly, access the device’s camera and microphone to remotely take pictures or listen in on conversations.

The creators of Pegasus, the Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO Group Technologies, long boasted that the spyware worked like a “ghost”, tracking the movements of targets without leaving a trace.

To avoid detection by racking up data charges on phone networks, the software transmits files only when the device is using Wi-Fi.

When it can’t do this, it collects and stores data in an encrypted software program, but it’s designed to never use more than 5 percent of the space on an infected phone.

It can be installed on some Apple and Android devices and is believed to have exploited three security weaknesses in iPhones. One method is to send a text message that provides a link to a website. Clicking it sends malware to the phone.

NSO Group has stated that it maintains strict control over how its powerful software is used. Your staff can turn it off at any time or look at the information being collected.

But experts told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the supervision was ‘non-existent’. The newspaper also said that if an infected phone entered Israel, Iran, Russia, China or the US, Pegasus wiped the device’s software.

It could also be used to indicate where someone is, where they have been, or who they have met.

Citizen Lab also found the suspected Foreign Office infections.

Ron Deibert, its director, wrote in an article about the laboratory website that because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a lot of staff abroad, the suspected infections could be related to ‘devices located abroad and using foreign SIM cards’.

He added that this was “similar to the hacking of foreign phone numbers used by US State Department employees in Uganda in 2021.”

A government spokesman said they do not routinely comment on security matters.

In November, the US added NSO Group to a trade blacklist and accused it of selling spyware to foreign governments who used the equipment to attack government officials, journalists and others.

At the time, the Israeli company said it was “dismayed” by the decision and insisted that its technologies “support the national security interests of the United States.”

Following today’s claim that Pegasus was used to infect a Number 10 device and phones at the Foreign Office, a spokesperson for NSO Group told MailOnline: “The information raised in respect of these allegations is once again false and may not be related to NSO products for technological purposes.” and contractual reasons.

‘NSO continues to be targeted by a number of politically motivated advocacy organizations, such as Citizens Labs and Amnesty, for producing inaccurate and unsubstantiated reports based on vague and incomplete information.

“We have repeatedly cooperated with government investigations, where credible allegations warrant it.”

A month earlier, in October 2021, the London High Court ruled that the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, had ordered the phone of his ex-wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, to be hacked.

The court said the Pegasus software was used in an attempt to infiltrate the phones of Princess Haya, some of her staff and two of her lawyers.

NSO Group was said to have terminated its contract with the United Arab Emirates following the disclosure.

The timing of the revelation about spyware on a No10 device, associated with an operator linked to the United Arab Emirates, comes just over a month after Johnson visited the region.

The prime minister used the trip to try to encourage both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to increase their oil production as Western nations seek to move away from Russian supplies.

Pegasus was also suspected of having infected phones connected to the Foreign Office, which at the time was run by then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, on at least five occasions between July 2020 and June last year.

Pegasus was also suspected of having infected phones connected to the Foreign Office, which at the time was run by then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, on at least five occasions between July 2020 and June last year.

A government source said: “We speak regularly with partners and work closely with allies to address threats, improve resilience and raise any concerns where they arise.”

In April last year, the PM was at the center of another security scare after it was revealed that his personal mobile phone number had been freely available on the internet for the last 15 years.

At the time, former national security adviser Lord Peter Ricketts warned that hostile foreign states or criminal gangs could have accessed the prime minister’s personal number.

Earlier this year, Johnson blamed a new phone purchase for failing to disclose WhatsApp messages with a conservative pair, in which they discussed the controversial financing of his Downing Street apartment refurbishment.

The prime minister offered a ‘humble and sincere apology’ for not sharing the messages, in which he described his Downing Street residence as ‘a small piece of advice’, with an investigation into the refurbishment of the apartment headed by Lord Geidt, his independent advisor on ministers’ interests.

In a letter to Lord Geidt in January, Johnson said: “You appreciate that the security issues I was facing at the time meant I had no access to my old device and had no recollection of exchanging messages.”

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