WhatsApp seeks details of Pakistani officials targeted by Israeli hacking

WhatsApp seeks details of Pakistani officials targeted by Israeli hacking

KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has sought details from the Pakistani media in the wake of recent claims by the Israeli spyware company's hacking software to target the mobile phones of Pakistani defence and intelligence agencies officials. ۔

The British broadcaster The Guardian reports that earlier this year, Israeli spyware company NSO Group allegedly targeted the mobile phones of at least two dozen Pakistani government officials.

According to the report, most of the Pakistani officials whose mobile phones were targeted were Defense and Intelligence officials.

The PTA, on the other hand, sought details from WhatsApp on measures and measures taken to prevent such hacking efforts in the future.

In addition, the PTA issued a directive to the public to upgrade the WhatsApp application to the latest version and keep the device operating system on to prevent such incidents, but the victims are requested to Contact PTA at [email protected]

It should be noted that in October, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against NSO Group for the construction and sale of a hacking platform that exploited a flaw in WhatsApp's proprietary servers so that from April 29 this year Mobile phones of at least 14,000 users will be hacked by May.
This hacking software secretly spies on NSO users' mobile phones, which includes officials from governments and intelligence organizations.

Meanwhile, a WhatsApp spokesperson told Dawn that "WhatsApp is deeply concerned about the privacy and security of our users. Once we discovered the issue of spyware, we immediately took new security measures and introduced people to our system. WhatsApp updated to help protect information '.

The company's spokesperson said that 'spyware depends on the weaknesses within the operating system', adding that 'we are determined to do our best'.

Meanwhile, Citizens Lab and WhatsApp did not provide details when asked about the details of users targeted by spyware.
However, a WhatsApp spokeswoman said: "We are unable to comment at this time, all our focus is on litigation and expect that we will provide more information as the case progresses."

It should be noted that in a secret letter issued by the Ministry of Information Technology in November this year, government officials were advised not to use the WhatsApp for public affairs.

The ministry also advised government officials to eliminate all mobile phones purchased before May 10 this year.

Reports on developing a WhatsApp alternative to sensitive government data and other important information also surfaced last month.

When the relevant authorities were asked if a WhatsApp alternative was being developed, a National IT Board official told Dawn that the project had nothing to do with hacking.
However, he did not confirm the information targeting spyware Pakistani officials.

On the other hand, Nihagat Dad of the Digital Rights Foundation, speaking to Dawn, said: "When it comes to whether the Pakistani government is taking this intervention seriously or not, it seems as if it is serious." Although no public statement has been made on the matter, a notice regarding the use of the WhatsApp was leaked to the Internet, hoping that the protocol for digital safety would be institutionalized and implemented.

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