Digital Violence Exposes NSO’s Tools Targetting Activists

computer screen

NSO made the news again due to their tools being used to spy on Bahraini and Hungarian activists, which obviously isn’t good. NSO is a cyber security organization that focuses on offensive rather than defence; they sell hacking tools and exploits to target individuals. Anyone with enough money can buy their attack tools, including rich individuals or companies. In Mexico their spying tool was used to intimidate campaigners asking the government to regulate sugar content in sofas.

We know spying on human rights activists is not good for anyone, and three organizations teamed up to expose how NSO supports such spying (and thus abuse). Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and Citizen Lab all worked together to create a neat website called Digital Violence which explores the complexity and reach of NSO’s tools.

First detected in 2015, the NSO Group’s Pegasus malware has reportedly been used in at least 45 countries worldwide to infect the phones of activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Having learnt that our former collaborators and close associates were hacked by Pegasus, Forensic Architecture undertook 15 months of extensive open-source research, interviews assisted by Laura Poitras, and developed bespoke software to present this data as an interactive 3D platform, along with video investigations narrated by Edward Snowden to tell the stories of the individuals targeted and the web of corporate affiliations within which NSO is nested. Supported by Amnesty International and the Citizen Lab, our analysis reveals relations and patterns between separate incidents in the physical and digital sphere, demonstrating how infections are entangled with real world violence, and extend within the professional and personal networks of civil society actors worldwide.

Check out digital violence.

One way to defend yourself from NSO group and other malicious agents is to keep your software up to date. Apple released a patch this week, so update your Apple devices.

Amnesty International’s Guide to Safe Messaging

safe texting

Thanks to the bravery of whistleblowers we know that the Five Eyes are monitoring all internet chatter regardless of who’s talking. This is a big concern for people who care about freedom and rights to have personal communication. As a result, Amnesty International put together a review of messaging apps so you can make an educated decision around what app you use. They cover the basics of what apps are available and what concerns there are around messaging security.

Why is end-to-end encryption important?

End-to-end encryption is important because it protects your personal data even as it passes through the company’s servers. It means that the company is not able to decrypt your messages or see the content. It recently emerged that Yahoo allowed US intelligence officials to scan hundreds of millions of YahooMail accounts. This could easily happen with instant messaging too, if it’s not end-to-end encrypted.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

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