nso spyware against belgian journalist

Rwanda Used NSO Spyware Against Belgian Journalist

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Last Updated on September 19, 2021 by Calvin C.

Barely a week after Apple issued an emergency update to patch a spyware flaw, more reports have emerged on the use of NSO spyware against Belgian journalist and his wife, by Rwandan government. The common denominator is the Israeli NSO Group, a controversial organization that has grabbed headlines for working with governments to target activists.

According to the Belgian military intelligence service, there is strong belief that phones belonging to Peter Verlinden and Marie Bamutese “were hacked using NSO technology.”

After this serious breach of privacy came to light, the Belgian military intelligence also analyzed phones of other probable victims for signs of cyberattack.

Back in July, the NSO Group was exposed by Le Soir and Knack to be selling their spyware to the following governments so that they target political dissidents, journalists and hacktivists, effectively:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Hungary
  • India
  • United Arab Emirates

Le Soir and Knack are part of the global media consortium and managed to access a document by the Belgian’s General Intelligence and Security Service which revealed the following:

“As the full investigations are still ongoing, our service assesses likely that both Peter Verlinden and Marie Bamutese’s devices have been targeted by the Pegasus software. Given the timing of the intrusion and the nature of the individuals targeted, the SGRS assesses that such an intrusion was very likely initiated by Rwanda,” a document by General Intelligence and Security Service said.

The infamous Pegasus spyware can work in the background of the victim’s device without any detection. It is a perfect weapon for surveillance, with the ability to turn on the camera, microphone, intercept audio or even messages.

The Belgian journalist specialized in reporting news in Central Africa, something that made him target by the Rwandan government.

“Given my relationship with the Rwandan regime, it didn’t really surprise us that Rwanda is trying to find out what my wife and I do. In recent years, we have come under fire from internet trolls on social media. In 2018, we filed a complaint for defamation. In other words: we are used to the Rwandan regime,” the journalist told the Pegasus Project.

NSO has continuously highlighted that it only helps governments fight terrorism and other criminal activities, but it seems the spyware is used for breaching people’s privacy.

Conclusion

Surveillance by government agencies or ISPs is no-longer a secret and ever time you surf the internet, remember that someone may be watching.

If you want to use the internet anonymously and privately, a VPN hides all your internet activity but make sure you pick the right VpN.

Free VPNs are out of the questions as they are associated with privacy issues as explained in this article.

I recommend NordVPN as the overall best VPN because it is highly secure and you can find public audit reports on their official site, something that other VPN providers shy away from.

Keep you devices up-to-date so that any security flaws in apps or firmware are fixed.

What’s your take on this Pegasus spyware? Leave comments below and share the article with your friends on social media.

Tech writer and VPN expert. DIY enthusiast and loves anything to do with space science.

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