Spanish Prime Minister Newest Target of Pegasus Spyware
Pedro Sánchez, the Prime Minister of Spain, as well as defense minister Margarita Robles are the latest two targets of the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. This is the first time the Prime Minister has been the subject of Pegasus spyware, but also the first evidence of cyber espionage effectively targeting at a head of state.
According to Tech Monitor, hackers attacked the Prime Minister’s phone twice, and stole 2.73GB of data, all without revealing their identity. In a statement from cabinet minister Félix Bolaños:
“We are absolutely certain that it was an external attack, because in Spain, in a democracy like ours, all such interventions are carried out by official bodies and with judicial authorisation … In this case, neither of the two circumstances prevailed, which is why we have no doubt that it was an external intervention. We want the judiciary to investigate. There is no evidence that there was other tapping after those dates.”
Pegasus made a name for itself when it was discovered to be used against journalists, politicians, and activists last year. The spyware is dangerous, as it gets around encryption to read messages and view files, as well as access an affected device’s camera and microphone.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, as well as 14 French Ministers had Pegasus somehow installed on their phones, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office was also targeted (it isn’t clear whether the Prime Minister’s personal devices were affected).