French Government Ministers Bugged

The mobile phones of at least five French ministers and a diplomatic advisor to President Emmanuel Macron have been found to infected by the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware. The five ministers targeted are Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, Territorial Cohesion Minister Jacqueline Gourault, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie, Housing Minister Emmanuelle Wargon and Overseas Territories Minister Sebastien Lecornu, Mediapart said.

This comes two months after it was revealed that the phone numbers of Macron, other government ministers and top French officials appeared in a leaked database being invesigated  by  journalists at Mediapart.

There is no evidence that the phones of the five cabinet members were successfully hacked, but the Mediapart allegations indicate that the devices were targeted with the powerful spyware known as Pegasus, which is made by NSO Group. The Israeli company is now at the center of an international spying scandal with suspicions that the Israeli government may also play a role.

Pegasus can switch on a phone’s camera or microphone and harvest its data, and was at the center of a storm in July after a list of about 50,000 potential surveillance targets worldwide including Heads of State became known. 

The NSO Group claims it has no connection to the leaked database and that the tens of thousands of numbers contained in the list are not the targets of NSO’s customers, which includes numerous governments around the world. It has also denied that Macron was ever targeted by Pegasus spyware and in a statement NSO Group said: “We stand by our previous statements regarding French government officials. They are not and have never been Pegasus targets. We won’t comment on anonymous source allegations.”

Although NSO Group say that the purpose of this powerful spyware is to investigate serious crime, not to target members of civil society, the Mediapart investigation has revealed that global clients of NSO Group have used their syware to hack human rights activists, journalists and lawyers. Forensic analysis of their devices at the end of July had revealed the presence of “suspect traces” of the spyware, according to a report by French state intelligence services.  

The alleged victims have not responded for requests to comment and some of them are understood  to have referred Mediapart investigators to France’s Secretariat-General for defence and national security (SGDSN), which also declined comment. The Élysée Palace also said it would not comment on “long and complex investigations which are still ongoing”.

In July, Le Monde newspaper reported that evidence of an attempted hacking was found on the phone of the former French  environment minister Francois de Rugy, with the attempt allegedly originating in Morocco and  Morocco's intelligence services were also accused of being behind the hacking of journalists in France.

The Israeli cybersecurity industry's exports were valued at $6.85 billion in 2020 and includes a number of world leading companies who have access to a trained talent pool from the nation's secretive military' intelligence units who are adept at transfering their know-how to the private sector.

France 24:      Mediapart:           TimesofIsrael:       Guardian:       TimesofIndia:     NPR:   Sada ElBalad

You Might Also Read: 

Apple's Emergency Patch For NSO Hack:

 

« Phishing Scam - Attackers Impersonate US Dept. of Transport
Medical Devices Need Better Cyber Security »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

LockLizard

LockLizard

Locklizard provides PDF DRM software that protects PDF documents from unauthorized access and misuse. Share and sell documents securely - prevent document leakage, sharing and piracy.

Authentic8

Authentic8

Authentic8 transforms how organizations secure and control the use of the web with Silo, its patented cloud browser.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

Perimeter 81 / How to Select the Right ZTNA Solution

Perimeter 81 / How to Select the Right ZTNA Solution

Gartner insights into How to Select the Right ZTNA offering. Download this FREE report for a limited time only.

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Our Supplier Directory lists 6,000+ specialist cyber security service providers in 128 countries worldwide. IS YOUR ORGANISATION LISTED?

IBM Security

IBM Security

IBM Security delivers an integrated system of analytics, real-time defenses and proven experts, so you can make strategic decisions about how to safeguard your business.

Encode

Encode

Encode delivers a cutting edge Security Analytics & Response Orchestration platform and best of breed Cyber Security Operations and Services.

SecureBrain

SecureBrain

SecureBrain software and services help protect against Japanese-specific cybercrime and global internet security threats such as online fraud, phishing, drive-by downloads and malware attacks.

FinlayJames

FinlayJames

FinlayJames supports cyber security companies to meet the increasing demand and pressure on them by finding top talent within the industry for their sales, marketing and technical teams.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - Ghana

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - Ghana

The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) liaises with relevant state agencies and the private sector to oversee cyber security operations in Ghana.

Granted Consultancy

Granted Consultancy

Granted Consultancy is a business consultancy that specialises in securing funding to support companies with the development and commercialisation of new and innovative products and technologies.

Zero Networks

Zero Networks

With Zero Network, you can achieve affordable, airtight network access security at scale.

Cybil

Cybil

Cybil is a publicly-available portal where members of the international cyber capacity building community can find and share information to support the design and delivery of programs and projects.

Dcode

Dcode

Dcode connects the tech industry and government to drive commercial innovation in the federal market.

Rhino Security Labs

Rhino Security Labs

Rhino Security Labs is a top penetration testing and security assessment firm, with a focus on cloud pentesting, network pentesting, web application pentesting, and phishing.

AVANTEC

AVANTEC

AVANTEC is the leading Swiss provider of IT security solutions in the areas of cloud, content, network and endpoint security.

Content+Cloud

Content+Cloud

Content+Cloud is a leading technology services business and Managed Services Provider (MSP) with a genuine passion for helping your organisation to succeed, whatever your ambitions.

Assure IT

Assure IT

Assure IT is a Singapore company specialising in technology governance, risk and compliance.

Pratum

Pratum

Pratum is an information security services firm that helps clients solve challenges based on risk, not fear.

ReasonLabs

ReasonLabs

ReasonLabs have created a next-generation anti-virus that is enterprise grade, yet accessible to any personal device around the world.

Identity Digital

Identity Digital

Identity Digital simplifies and connects a fragmented online world with domain names and related technologies that allow people and businesses to build, market and own their digital identities.