theverge.com - 6 days ago
Mexican journalists targeted by spyware after investigating government corruption
Some of Mexico’s most prominent journalists and activists were targeted by a massive spyware campaign, according to a new report from Citizen Lab.
Conducted mostly between August 2015 and July 2016, the campaign included 76 separate spyware-laced SMS messages sent to 11 different targets, including prominent TV journalist Carmen Aristegui and her young son. It’s unclear why Aristegui and the others were targeted, although she and many of the other targeted journalists were investigating the “Casa Blanca” scandal, in which Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is accused of receiving a multimillion-dollar mansion from a favored contractor. The messages themselves ranged from a simple “message not sent” text to more aggressive attempts, which masqueraded as the US Embassy’s visa division or a bereaved friend sending details of a funeral. Some texts even posed as Amber Alerts, claiming to offer details on a missing child. Once clicked, the software exploited a trio of previously disclosed iOS vulnerabilities to silently install itself on the target device. Citizen Lab believes the campaign was orchestrated by the Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group, based on similarities in the code of the spyware and the host domains where it was stored. The group, rumored to be on sale for as much as $1 billion, rose to prominence last year after similar spyware was detected on the iPhone of human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor in the United Arab Emirates.
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