Spyware infections inside 10 Downing Street, cybersecurity group warns

Spyware infections inside 10 Downing Street, UK government warned by watchdog Source Macedo Media

Digital watchdog group Citizen Lab said that it had warned 10 Downing Street that spyware infections were giving access to the prime minister’s office and the foreign ministry.

According to a statement from the company on Monday April 19th, electronic devices connected to government networks were infected with what appeared to be Pegasus the Israeli made spyware.

The spyware has gained notoriety over the years, a product of Israeli cyberarms dealer NSO Group, which has been sold to numerous governments enabling them to eavesdrop on their citizens as well as their enemies.

The report in the form of a blog post by Citizen Lab says: “We confirm that in 2020 and 2021 we observed and notified the government of the United Kingdom of multiple suspected instances of Pegasus spyware infections within official UK networks.”

The allegations are claimed to be false by NSO with a spokesperson saying: “The allegations are false and could not be related to NSO products for technological and contractual reasons.”

No comment has been forthcoming from the British Government who simply said: “We do not routinely comment on security matters.”

Details provided by Citizen Lab point the finger at clients of NSO in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Cyprus, Jordan and India. These are all countries that enjoy a special relationship with the UK and who would have access to the prime minister and his office.

Marios Pelekanos a spokesperson for the Cyprus Government told Reuters that they categorically deny any such involvement.

A statement emailed to Reuters said: “However, to avoid any further speculations on a Cyprus link, we note that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, which enjoys excellent relations with the British Government in all fields, has never been approached with any sort of inquiry on the subject at large by the relevant British authorities.”

No comments have been forthcoming from the other Governments mentioned at the time of this article.

Citizen Lab who are known as one of the leading research groups on mercenary spyware explained that the Israeli software Pegasus can be used to remotely break into iPhones, giving clients deep access into a targeted phone’s memory or turning them into recording devices.

They said they found evidence of compromised UK devices by monitoring internet traffic and other digital signals to spy servers that control Pegasus for various NSO clients.

Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert wrote in the blog post. “We identified infections emanating from those UK networks based on a variety of network scanning methods we use, and notified the relevant UK authorities of our suspicions at the time for them to follow up.

“We did not have access to any devices, and do not have any information on specific victims.”

According to an article in the New Yorker article, the UK National Cyber Security Centre, tested multiple phones to look for malware but according to NSO the findings were inconclusive.

The claim that there are spyware infections inside 10 Downing Street will be of concern, and if the allegations by the watchdog Citizen Lab are true it is unlikely that the government will acknowledge that it is the case.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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