10 Downing Street the Target of Spyware, Watchdog Says

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Apr 19, 2022

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Researchers at Toronto-based Citizen Lab say the malicious infections originated from the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Spied On By Pegasus

Devices attached to employees in the UK Prime Minister’s office got infected by spyware, according to Citizen Lab. The security watchdog also found evidence of infection in networks within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), now named the Foreign Commonwealth and Development office (FCDO).

Spyware is a type of malware that infects systems to gather data which it relays to a third party. 

The Canadian digital rights watchdog says that it informed UK officials of the presence of spyware in official networks. It gave the warnings in 2020 and 2021.

Citizen Lab fingered the notorious Israeli-made Pegasus spyware in the cyberattacks. The software enables operators to gain access to a target’s mobile phone, monitor activities, and explore the memory.

According to a statement, the suspected infection at the Prime Minister’s office came from a Pegasus hacker in the UAE. On the other hand, FCO infections came from multiple countries, including the UAE, India, Cyprus, and Jordan.

In Response

NSO Group, the company behind Pegasus, says it only sells it to governments to help them catch terrorists and criminals. A spokesperson for the company denied the involvement of Pegasus in the touted attacks.

“The information raised regarding these allegations are, yet again, false and could not be related to NSO products for technological and contractual reasons.”

When reached by Reuters, a UK government official said, “we do not routinely comment on security matters.”

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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