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Is spyware used in the European Union by some European countries?

Since spring 2022, a commission of inquiry has been responsible for shedding light on the use of this type of software.

Espionage has emerged in the European Parliament, and the Commission is investigating the use of the NSO Group’s software, Pegasus.

Pegasus is malware that gives access to its user, and a view of the victim’s entire content of the smartphone without his or her knowledge. Thus, very private data, such as videos, photos, text messages, conversations on Messenger or geolocation are accessible without the knowledge of the owner of the device. And even more surprisingly, the software is also able to trigger the microphone and camera of the device, all remotely.

How do people’s phones get hacked?

The attacks that have occurred via Pegasus software were made in three different ways. There have been examples of zero-click attacks, as they are called. This hacking method consists of exploiting the flaws in an application to introduce its software without even needing user interaction. For example, in 2019, Pegasus took advantage of flaws in WhatsApp messaging to attack its victims. There have also been network injection attacks, where the user, after connecting to an unencrypted site online, was redirected to a malicious site. Finally, victims were tricked by SMS after clicking on a link that was sent to them.

The establishment of an investigation into spying software in the European Union follows revelations by a coalition of 17 international media outlets led by the Forbidden Stories consortium and Amnesty International.

At the origin of these suspicions was the discovery by the latter of a file of 50,000 phone numbers, all potential targets of the spyware. Among the numbers listed in this file, we find politicians such as Emmanuel Macron, the president of the French Republic, and his former prime minister Edouard Phillipe, as well as other former members of the French government. The files also included numbers of lawyers, businessmen, diplomats and senior intelligence officials.

In November 2022, during a press conference, the findings of the first report of the Pega Commission were presented. The Commission of Inquiry has been mandated until March 2023, but this mandate period may be extended.


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