Spanish authorities have revealed that the mobile phones belonging to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were compromised using Pegasus software. According to the Spain’s Presidential Minister Felix Bonalos, the PM’s cellphone was tapped in May 2021 while Robles’ phone was compromised one month later in an incident that has raised alarm as to how the work phones belonging to senior government officials would be tapped. The official intimated that an investigation was launched to check whether the mobile phones of all members of staff have been spared in the data breach. It appears that the phone tappings are the result of an external attack whose motives have not been clarified yet.
Further details point to the leaking of some amount of data that was obtained from the phones, with Spanish media reporting that the threat actors using Pegasus managed to extract 2.6GB of information from the PM’s phone and 9MB from Robles’. An article by The Guardian has revealed that more than 200 Spanish mobile numbers were targeted for surveillance alongside those belonging to senior Spanish officials – speculations point to a possible NSO Group client thought to be Morocco. At this point, the gravity of the matter in light of the sensitivity of the leaked info has not been established conclusively – investigations are still ongoing and the Spanish government has not given any hint about its knowledge of the perpetrator.Inside Pegasus
Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Israeli cyber company NSO group that’s been mobilized by state actors to breach into the mobile phones of targets. The tool can be installed on both iOS and Android devices to extract data and activate a camera or microphone for spying reasons. Although Pegasus claims that it only supplies the software to governments for cybersecurity operations against criminals and terrorists, global controversies have surrounded the project on grounds of possible human rights violations that have been facilitated by NSO Group clients. As a result, Apple filed a law suit in November 2021 against NSO Group and its parent company over accusations of surveillance and targeting Apple users. The suit outlined how Pegasus was used to infect victim devises and spy on their activities without their knowledge.