Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

SecurityWeekSecurityWeek

Malware & Threats

Spain Vows to be Transparent in Probe of Pegasus Spyware Use

Spanish authorities are pledging full transparency as they launch inquiries into allegations that the phones of dozens of supporters of Catalan independence were hacked with powerful and controversial spyware only sold to government agencies.

Spanish authorities are pledging full transparency as they launch inquiries into allegations that the phones of dozens of supporters of Catalan independence were hacked with powerful and controversial spyware only sold to government agencies.

An internal probe by the country’s intelligence agency, a special parliamentary commission to share its results, and a separate investigation by Spain’s ombudsman will be arranged to show that central authorities in Madrid have “nothing to hide,” the minister for presidency and relations with parliament, Félix Bolaños, announced Sunday.

Bolaños also said the government remained committed to negotiations with separatists on the future of the restive northeastern region of Catalonia.

“We want to recover trust by resorting to dialogue and to transparency,” the minister said in Barcelona, following a meeting with the regional chief of the Catalan presidency, Laura Vilagrà.

“The government has a clean conscience and we have nothing to hide,” Bolaños added.

Pere Aragonès, a pro-independence left-wing politician leading Catalonia’s government, said last week that it was putting “on hold” relations with Spain’s national authorities after cybersecurity experts in Canada revealed “massive political espionage.”

Aragonès accused Spain’s intelligence agency, known as CNI in Spanish, of the alleged hacking.

Citizen Lab, an experts group linked to the University of Toronto, said traces of Pegasus and other spyware by two Israeli companies, NSO Group and Candiru, were identified in devices of 65 people, including elected officials, activists, lawyers, European lawmakers and others.

Most infiltration took place between 2017, when a banned referendum on Catalan independence caused a deep political crisis in Spain, and ended in mid-2020, when Citizen Lab revealed the first cases of the alleged espionage.

The Spanish government has not denied nor confirmed whether it uses Pegasus or other hard-to-detect spyware, saying that any surveillance is conducted under the supervision of judges.

Rounds of talks between the central government in Madrid and Catalan regional authorities have yielded some progress in solving some of the separatists’ long-term grievances, but have not resolved the fundamental issues of Catalonia’s status within Spain.

Polling and recent elections show that the share of Catalans supporting independence grew since last decade’s financial crisis, but have since 2017 remained divided, with majorities fluctuating recently between those in favor or against breaking away from Spain.

Related: Secretive Israeli Exploit Company Behind Wave of Zero-Day Exploits

Related: Microsoft Patches 128 Windows Flaws, New Zero-Day Reported by NSA

Related: Microsoft Patches 3 Under-Attack Windows Zero-Days

 

Related: Google Confirms Sixth Zero-Day Chrome Attack in 2021

Written By

Click to comment

Expert Insights

Related Content

Cybercrime

The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.

Ransomware

US government reminds the public that a reward of up to $10 million is offered for information on cybercriminals, including members of the Hive...

Ransomware

The Hive ransomware website has been seized as part of an operation that involved law enforcement in 10 countries.

Cybercrime

CISA, NSA, and MS-ISAC issued an alert on the malicious use of RMM software to steal money from bank accounts.

Cybercrime

Chinese threat actor DragonSpark has been using the SparkRAT open source backdoor in attacks targeting East Asian organizations.

Cybercrime

A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...

Cyberwarfare

Russia-linked cyberespionage group APT29 has been observed using embassy-themed lures and the GraphicalNeutrino malware in recent attacks.