More details are emerging about this year’s WhatsApp hack, revealing that senior government officials in multiple US-allied countries were targeted.
According to those familiar with the company’s on-going investigation, a “significant “ portion of the known victims of the hack are either high-profile government or military officials in at least 20 countries on five continents.
This means that the WhatsApp hack could have much broader political and diplomatic consequences than previously thought.
WhatsApp recently filed a lawsuit against the Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group which it believes built and sold a hacking platform that exploited a flaw in its servers to enable others to hack into the smartphones of at least 1,400 users of the company’s messaging app.
At this time, it is still unclear as to who used the NSO Group’s software to hack the smartphones of government and military officials but the firm has said that it sells its spyware exclusively to government customers.
According to people familiar with the investigation, some victims are in the US, UAE, Bahrain, Mexico, Pakistan and India. A dozen journalists and human rights activists in India have also come forward to say they were targeted.
The NSO Group has denied any wrongdoing in the past and the company says that its tools are intended to be used to help governments catch terrorists and other high-profile criminals. However, during the last several years cybersecurity researchers have discovered that NSO products have been used against a wide range of targets including protesters in countries with authoritarian governments.
Now that WhatsApp has brought a lawsuit against the company, we may finally learn more about its operations. Although, the news that the hack was also used to target government and military officials could also lead to a more formal investigation.
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