Top 10 Spy Apps For Iphone – Aida Alami has always been wary of surveillance. As a journalist from Morocco, a state with a track record of intercepting phone calls and messages of political rivals, activists and journalists, she usually took precautions to protect her sources. She avoided using certain keywords and full names in her communications and conducted interviews on Signal, a messaging app that encrypts all content before it leaves a phone. “For a while, we felt very safe on Signal,” she told the Committee to Protect Journalists in an interview.
That sense of safety came from using end-to-end encryption in 2019, when WhatsApp owner Facebook disclosed a vulnerability that allowed hackers to infiltrate smartphones by calling someone through the messaging app, without the target being clicking on a link. Moroccan authorities allegedly exploited this now-patented flaw to gain secret access to the phones of journalists and activists, including Aboubakr Jamai, winner of the International Press Freedom Award in 2003.
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Like Signal, WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption to encrypt all calls, messages, audio, photos and videos in transmission as well as on the company’s server – an important security feature that prevents governments from intercepting or intercepting communications subpoenaing. However, the Facebook revelation showed that surveillance software could be installed on any phone through any app.
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That’s when Alami realized that almost all the precautions she had been taking were now obsolete. “That was really scary,” she said.
Since then, Alami has continued to write and report for the New York Times and other publications. But her job is much more difficult working under the constant threat of surveillance. “I know for a fact that a lot of people are afraid to talk to me,” she said. “A lot of people are afraid to write me, they are afraid that my phone is being watched. What happens is that you are just paranoid all the time. You assume someone else is reading your conversations.”
There is nothing new about governments or criminal gangs spying on journalists or activists they fear will expose or discredit them. But the development of high-tech “zero-click” spyware – the kind that takes over a phone without user knowledge or interaction – poses an existential crisis for journalism and the future of press freedom around the world.
In interviews with reporters, technology experts, and press freedom advocates in multiple countries, the Committee to Protect Journalists () found that the fear of surveillance extends far beyond those who can infiltrate their phones. create. These attacks – or the possibility of them – have already had a chilling effect on sources, who fear that their conversations with reporters could put them at risk from authorities. Many journalists said they are concerned not only for their own personal safety, but for friends and family who could be targeted along with them. Newsroom leaders talk about taking extra security precautions when discussing coverage plans. The awareness that any journalist could be caught unknowingly leads to deep feelings of powerlessness that may prompt many to leave the profession – or not enter it in the first place. “Violence against journalists is on the rise,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. “So are digital threats. The damage done by tools like Pegasus is contributing to the increase in violence.”
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Pegasus, a product of the Israeli firm NSO Group, is probably the most famous mobile surveillance program. Like other spyware, it works by insinuating itself into smartphones, but essentially gives the intruder free run of the device – access to its microphone and camera, any files or photos stored on the phone, any network connections, contact information, messages and browsing history. , passwords, email accounts, recordings and so on. The buyer can eavesdrop on conversations – even those that take place over encrypted messaging apps like Signal – all without owners knowing their phones have been tapped.
Perhaps one of the scariest aspects of the new generation of spyware is that the old methods of protection don’t work. Infection can be a zero-click operation; targets do not need to open a link or download an attachment. All it takes is a missed call or an invisible text message to bypass the phone’s defenses. Measures such as encryption are only good protection against a spy who intercepts messages such as texts or emails or voice calls after they leave the phone. When spyware takes over phones, it can place a call before encryption takes place, like reading a letter over a writer’s shoulder before it is sealed in an envelope.
In July 2021, Project Pegasus discovered phone numbers of more than 180 journalists on a list of possible targets for Pegasus spyware that could turn their cell phones into listening devices. The NSO Group denies any affiliation with the Project list and says it only sells its product to government vetting agencies whose goal is to prevent crime or terrorism.
Pegasus, however, is now just one part of a private surveillance industry bringing the high-tech spy tools to any nation – or, in theory, any organization or individual – that requires millions to pay for the service, which experts say. “It’s no longer about superstates and superpowers, it’s about anyone who wants to know who reporters are talking to, who their sources are, where they’re getting their information from,” Michael Christie , global general manager. logistics and security at global news agency Reuters, told.
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“Of course, I find it much more difficult to meet and communicate with sources, who are more afraid of the trouble I could cause in their lives,” Szabolcs Panyi, the investigative reporter “Of course, much more difficulty meeting and communicating with sources. , who are increasingly afraid of the trouble I could cause in their lives,” Szabolcs Panyi, the investigative reporter who broke the news, together with Direkt36 editor András Pethő, that the Hungarian government had bought Pegasus espionage and was a surveillance target for himself, i. interview with . “Among Hungarian journalists, the biggest fear now is that this relationship [Pegasus] will have a chilling effect on sources, and paradoxically that this huge scoop will hinder our work in the long run.”
Journalists in multiple countries have similar concerns. For many, spyware infections were a precursor to harassment and imprisonment on false charges – and sometimes worse. The Guardian reported that around the time Washington Post
Columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed and deported at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in October 2018, phones belonging to his close friends and family were targeted by Pegasus spyware. Separately, Mexican freelance journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto was selected for surveillance with the spyware a month before his assassination in 2017, The Guardian reported.
“Above all this is an attack on [freedom] of the press,” Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor of The Wire, a news website in India, said at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, in April. “Because when you use Pegasus or… deploy spyware against journalists, it’s clear that you intend to interfere with the work they do.”
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Private spyware firms have been on the scene for more than a decade, but these have mostly been small operations, said Etienne Maynier, a security researcher at Amnesty International. The rise of NSO brought scale, attracting investors into the spyware market. Last year, NSO was considering an initial public offering.
Those plans were disrupted by the publication of Project Pegasus, an investigative collaboration between Forbidden Stories, Amnesty International, and 17 global media outlets. The reporting group obtained a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers of potential NSO client targets. They managed to identify approximately 1,000 people whose phone numbers were on the list, including 189 journalists. They chose 67 people who they thought were more likely to be hacked. Amnesty’s security lab analyzed the phones and, by July 2021, had found evidence of infections on 23 phones and attempted penetration of another 14; the count has steadily increased. Among them were heads of state, cabinet ministers, diplomats, military security officers, and journalists from the world’s top media organizations.
After the report came out, the US Department of Commerce added NSO to its list of export restrictions, dashing hopes for an initial public offering (IPO). ( he is part of a coalition of human rights and press freedom groups asking the US government to keep the NSO Group on that list and hold it accountable for providing Pegasus spyware to governments that used it for surveillance The firm was once valued by investors at $1 billion but, according to filings with a London court as reported in the Financial Times in April, was deemed “worthless.” In July, US military contractor L3Harris abandoned its efforts to buy NSO; in August the company’s CEO resigned as part of an internal reorganization.
An aerial view of Israeli cyber firm NSO Group at one of its branches in the Arava Desert, southern Israel July 22, 2021. (Reuters/Amir
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