Khashoggi killer hacked phone
Washington, Jan. 13: Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, was a sitting duck. Little did he know that the WhatsApp messages he was sending to fellow Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz could be read by his would be killers.
Abdulaziz’s phone was compromised and had allegedly been infected by Pegasus, a powerful malware. He is suing Israelbased cyber company NSO Group, which created the malware accusing them of violating international law by selling the software to oppressive regimes. NSO insisted its software is “only for use fighting terrorism and crime.” and denied any involvement in the death of Khashoggi.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned the company as the “the worst of the worst”.
“The NSO Group in today's world, based on the evidence we have, they are the worst of the worst in selling these burglary tools that are being actively currently used to violate the human rights of dissidents, opposition figures, and activists,” Snowden said in November.
NSO Group says it can monitor the usage of all of its software by all of its clients, but would need to actively check how clients were using their products before becoming aware of any possible misuse.
The software, able to infect a phone after a single click on a link in a fake text message, then grants hackers complete access to the phone. Data stored on the phone, messages, phone calls and even GPS location data are visible, allowing hackers to see where someone is, who he or she is talking to, and about what. In one text, before his death on October 2 at the Saudi consulate, Khashoggi learned that his conversations with Abdulaziz may have been intercepted. “God help us,” he wrote.