Saudi Women's rights activist iPhone Revealed Political Hacking around the World
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Loujain al-Hathloul, Saudi Women’s rights activist iPhone revealed political hacking around the world. NSO Group, one of the world’s most sophisticated spyware companies is in trouble all thanks to women’s rights activists. 

Now the hacking group is facing legal actions and scrutiny in Washington over new allegations of the software being used to hack government officials and dissidents around the world.

The women’s right activist and privacy researchers discovered a trove of evidence that suggest the Israeli spyware maker had helped hack her iPhone, according to six people involved in the incident. According to the security researchers, the iPhone contained a fake image file left behind mistakenly by the spyware.

Al-Hathloul is a prominent activist in Saudi Arabia, who led a campaign to end the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. After being arrested on charges of harming national security was released from jail in February 2021.

After her release, she received an email from Google warning her about the state-backed hackers trying to penetrate her Gmail account. Concerned about her iPhone being hacked she contacted the Canadian privacy rights group Citizen Lab, further probing into her iPhone for evidence, according to Reuters.

According to Bill Marczak, a researcher from Citizen Lab, after going through her phone for six months they discovered a malfunction in the surveillance software implanted on her phone. It left a copy of the malicious image file, rather than deleting itself, after stealing the messages of its target. 

He further added, the computer code left by the attack, provided direct evidence NSO built the espionage tool. “It was a game-changer, we caught something that the company thought was uncatchable.”

It revealed the blueprint of the hack and led Apple Inc to notify thousands of other state-backed hacking victims around the world. 

There has been explosive growth in the spyware industry with governments across the world buying phone hacking software. It enables the user of the spyware to carry out digital surveillance for just a few elite intelligence agencies.

According to Apple most of the victims were targeted through NSO’s tool. The security researchers also discovered spy software from a second Israeli vendor QuaDream leveraged the same iPhone vulnerability. You can read more about this report in detail at the National Post.

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