Business Essentials for Professionals


Hacking Via WhatsApp Targeted Gov. Officials Worldwide: Reuters

Hacking Via WhatsApp Targeted Gov. Officials Worldwide: Reuters
According to a report published by the news agency Reuters, earlier this year, hacking software was attempted to infect the phones belonging to senior government officials in a number of allied countries of the United States who used Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp app. The hackers attempted to put in a malware into the target phones through vulnerability in WhatsApp.
A “significant” number of the identified victims of the hacking are high-profile government and military officials belonging to at least 20 different countries on five continents, claimed the Reuters report with information from sources who have knowledge about the internal investigation into the breach being conducted by WhatsApp. The sources reportedly said that many of the officials were from allied countries of the US.
It is now believed that the privacy breach because of the cyber hacking through WhatsApp may have broad political and diplomatic consequences given the now available list of the wide group of people whose smartphones were targeted than was disclosed earlier.
A lawsuit against Israeli hacking tool developer NSO Group was filed by WhatsApp in a US court on Tuesday over the breach. According to the lawsuit, a hacking platform was created and sold by the NSO Group and the platform used a gap in the security of the WhatsApp-owned servers to aid the clients of the company to hack into the smartphones of at least 1,400 users. According to the lawsuit from WhatsApp, the hacking took place between April 29, 2019, and May 10, this year.
According to reports, the actual number of people whose phones were hacked via WhatsApp could be much greater. Photographs from April 1 that showed attempts by the hackers to break into his phone were shared with Reuters by a London-based human rights lawyer.
The NSO has said that the clients of its spyware are exclusively government customers, it is not yet known the identity of the hackers or the organization that put them at work.
According to reports, the victims of the hacking were from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Mexico, Pakistan and India were targeted. It is not clear whether the government officials mentioned in the Reuters report were form these countries as well.
Over the last couple of days since the news of the hacking became public, a number of Indian nationals have claimed themselves to be victims of the cyber attack and those making such claims include journalists, academics, lawyers and activists of India’s Dalit community.
It was “not able to disclose who is or is not a client or discuss specific uses of its technology”, NSO said in a statement. The firm has earlier denied having any role in the scandal arguing the its spyware is used by its government clients to catch only terrorists and criminals.
Over the years, such claims by the NSO Group have been questioned by cyber security researchers who have argued that a wide range of targets, including protesters in countries under authoritarian rule, were at the receiving end of the hacking using the company’s products.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc