Humanitarian goods allegedly ‘stolen’ and ‘spyware’ installed on rescue boat bound for Gaza

Equipment designed to intercept communications was discovered aboard an NGO ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, but that may have been only the tip of the iceberg. Several of the phones used by members…

Humanitarian goods allegedly ‘stolen’ and ‘spyware’ installed on rescue boat bound for Gaza

Equipment designed to intercept communications was discovered aboard an NGO ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, but that may have been only the tip of the iceberg. Several of the phones used by members of the charity – the International Committee of the Red Cross – were infected with Pegasus, according to human rights organizations, the BBC reported.

The mobile phones were among 31,000 devices that have allegedly been infected with a Pegasus spyware program. On the other side of the Middle East, the network is said to have infected thousands of devices aboard ships attempting to break a blockade on Gaza since 2008.

A group of 10 human rights organizations and Amnesty International confirmed on Wednesday that the devices were infected with Pegasus, and said that it has shared information about the issue with Israeli authorities.

“The NGO communities around the world will be gravely concerned that they and the NGOs they work with in Gaza could be vulnerable to interception of their communications,” Anna Neistat, an academic who tracks the maritime trade and smuggler networks in the Middle East, told The Guardian.

Television footage of members of the Red Cross crew reporting the discovery of the equipment also gave the impression that it was associated with the aid organization. At first, the cargo carrier believed to be the target of the attack refused to acknowledge the news. But a source who identified himself as the country manager of the Israel-based shipowner, Roslyn Inc., later confirmed that it was not an attack but the result of malware of a Turkish company that it contracted to manage and load the cargo onto its vessels.

The NGO workers said they learned that their devices were infected only a few days ago. Once he learned of the issue, the ship’s captain reportedly replaced the majority of the malware.

While Pegasus has been widely used to support both Israel and Hamas in the Gaza border conflict, news of the Trojan-spyware device becoming infected on a ship carrying humanitarian aid has focused attention on how the truce to the deadly conflict was secured.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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