Govt officials world over among 1.4K WhatsApp users targeted in 2019: WhatsApp CEO

Senior government officials from around the world, including individuals in high national security positions who are “allies of the United States”, have been targeted by governments using NSO group spyware in 2019 attack against 1,400 WhatsApp Users, according to the messaging app CEO, The Guardian reported.

WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart reveals new details about the individuals targeted in the attack following revelations this week by Project Pegasus, a collaboration of 17 media organizations investigated NSO, the Israeli company that sells its powerful surveillance software to government customers around the world.

Cathcart says he sees parallels between the attack against WhatsApp users in 2019, which is currently the subject of a WhatsApp lawsuit against NSO, and the report of a major data leak at the center. of Project Pegasus.

Cathcart said in an interview with The Guardian: “The reports match what we saw in the attack we defeated two years ago, it matches very well with what we have been vocal about. after that,” Cathcart said in an interview with The Guardian.

In addition to “senior government officials,” WhatsApp found that journalists and human rights activists were targeted in the 2019 attack on its users. According to him, many of the targets in the WhatsApp case “did not have any business monitored in any way,” the report said.

He said: “This should be a wake-up call for internet security?? Cell phones may be safe for everyone or they may not be safe for everyone.

According to the report, Cathcart questioned NSO’s claim that the number was “exaggerated” in itself, saying that WhatsApp recorded an attack against 1,400 users over a two-week period in 2019.

“That tells us that over a longer period of time, over a period of years, the number of people being attacked is very high,” he said, adding: “That’s why we feel I find it very important to raise concerns around this.”

When WhatsApp says it believes its users have been “targeted,” it means the company has evidence that an NSO server attempted to install malware on users’ devices. , The Guardian said.

When WhatsApp announced two years ago that its users had been targeted by NSO malware, it said 100 of the 1,400 targets were journalists, human rights defenders and activists. The users were targeted through a WhatsApp vulnerability that was later fixed.

According to the report, Cathcart said he discussed the 2019 attack on WhatsApp users with governments around the world.

He also praised ‘s recent moves Microsoft and others in the tech industry are speaking out about the dangers of malware and calling on Apple – whose phones are vulnerable to malware – to adopt their approach, according to the report. .

“I hope that Apple will start to adopt that approach as well. Be loud, join in. That’s not enough, most of our users don’t need to worry about this. Not enough. to say ‘oh this is just thousands or tens of thousands of victims,’ Cathcart is quoted as saying.

“If this affects journalists around the world, it affects human rights defenders around the world, it affects us all. And if anyone’s phone unsecured, which means people’s phones aren’t secure,” he added.

He also called on governments to help create accountability for spyware makers, the report said.

The Guardian reported that WhatsApp sued NSO in late 2019, claiming that the Israeli company was responsible for sending malware to WhatsApp users’ phones.

A judge in the case pointed out that the basic facts in the case – that the NSO-owned malware was sent via WhatsApp’s service – do not appear to be disputed. Instead, the lawsuit hinges on whether NSO’s “sovereign customers” were the cause, or the company itself, the report said. | Govt officials world over among 1.4K WhatsApp users targeted in 2019: WhatsApp CEO


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