Macron Calls National Security Meeting To Discuss Pegasus Spyware

 

 

French President Emmanuel Macron has called an urgent national security meeting for Thursday to discuss the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware after reports about its use in France emerged this week, a government spokesman said. 

“The president is following this subject closely and takes it very seriously,” Gabriel Attal told France Inter radio, adding that the unscheduled national security meeting would be “dedicated to the Pegasus issue and the question of cybersecurity”.

A consortium of media companies, including the Washington Post, the Guardian and France’s Le Monde, reported on Tuesday that one of Macron’s phone numbers and those of many cabinet ministers were on a leaked list of potential Pegasus targets.

The newspapers said they had been unable to confirm whether an attempted or successful hacking had taken place without forensically analysing the president’s phone.

Evidence of an attempted hacking was found on the device of former environment minister and close Macron ally Francois de Rugy, with the attempt allegedly originating in Morocco.

De Rugy demanded on Tuesday that Morocco provide “explanations to France, to the French government and individuals like me, who was a member of the French government when there was an attempt to hack and access the data on my mobile phone.”

The NSO Group has denied that Macron was among the targets of its clients.

We can “specifically come out and say for sure that the president of France, Macron, was not a target”, Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer at NSO Group, told Israeli television network i24 on Wednesday.

A source close to Macron played down the risk to him, saying Wednesday that the 43-year-old leader had several phones which were “regularly changed, updated and secured”.

Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, the source said that his security settings were “the tightest possible”.

Other revelations this week have alleged that close French ally Morocco, also targeted several high-profile journalists in France.

Prosecutors in Paris have opened a probe following complaints from investigative website Mediapart and the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine.

Morocco has denied the claims, saying it “never acquired computer software to infiltrate communication devices”.

The joint media investigation into Pegasus identified at least 180 journalists in 20 countries who were selected for potential targeting between 2016 to June 2021.

Pegasus can hack into mobile phones without a user knowing, enabling clients to read every message, track a user’s location and tap into the phone’s camera and microphone.

Hackers ‘Manipulated’ Employees To Access Top Twitter Accounts – Report

 In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Twitter says hackers “manipulated” some of its employees to access accounts in a high-profile attack on the social media company, including those of Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Posts trying to dupe people into sending the hackers Bitcoin were tweeted by the official accounts of Apple, Uber, Bill Gates and many others on Wednesday, forcing Twitter to lock large numbers of accounts in damage control.

More than $100,000 worth of the virtual currency was sent to email addresses mentioned in the tweets, according to Blockchain.com, which monitors crypto transactions.

“We know that they accessed tools only available to our internal support teams to target 130 Twitter accounts,” said a statement posted Saturday on Twitter’s blog.

For 45 of those accounts, the hackers were able to reset passwords, login and send tweets, it added, while the personal data of up to eight unverified users was downloaded.

Twitter locked down affected accounts and removed the fraudulent tweets. It also shut off accounts not affected by the hack as a precaution.

Most of those have now been restored, Twitter said on Saturday.

The attack was carried out by a group of young friends — one who lives with his mother — with no links to state or organized crime, The New York Times reported on Friday.

The paper said it interviewed four people who participated in the hacking, who shared logs and screenshots backing up their accounts of what happened.

The young hackers said a mysterious user who went by the name “Kirk” initiated the scheme with a message and was the one with access to Twitter accounts.

They added they were only involved in taking control of lesser-known but desirable Twitter accounts, such as an “@” sign and single letters or numbers that could easily be sold, according to the report.

The hackers maintained they stopped serving as middlemen for “Kirk” when high-profile users became targets.

President Donald Trump’s account, which has 83.5 million followers, was not targeted.

“The president will remain on Twitter,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said. “His account was secure and not jeopardized during these attacks.”

The hack has raised questions about Twitter’s security as it serves as a megaphone for politicians ahead of November’s election.

Twitter said it is limiting the information it makes public about the attack while it carries out “remediation steps” to secure the site, as well as training employees to guard against future hacking attempts.

 

AFP

Russia Faults United States’ Accusations Of Cyber Hacking

FILE COPY Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP

 

The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed as “groundless” warnings from Britain and the United States that Russian state-sponsored hackers were threatening their crucial computer networks.

“We don’t know what these new accusations are based on,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“As before, neither our American nor our British colleagues have bothered to search for arguments, even weak ones,” he said during a regular briefing.

Peskov added that the claims were “groundless” and “unjustified”.

Washington and London said in a joint statement Monday that Russia’s hacking operation aimed “to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations”.

The US Department of Homeland Security said the hacking was part of a broad operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe, which DHS says comprises concerting cyber attacks by Moscow’s civilian and military intelligence agencies.

The announcement came in an unprecedented joint alert that underscored closer cooperation between Western governments fighting what they say is an ongoing, multi-faceted hacking and online disinformation campaign by Moscow.

AFP