Khashoggi killer hacked phone

The Asian Age - - World -

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.

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