Boris Johnson has been told that his Downing Street office was targeted with “multiple” suspected infections using Pegasus, the sophisticated hacking software that can turn a phone into a remote listening device, The Guardian reported.
A report released by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said the UAE was suspected of orchestrating spyware attacks on No. 10 in 2020 and 2021.
Pegasus is the hacking software — or spyware — developed, marketed and licensed to governments around the world by the Israeli firm NSO Group. It has the capability to infect phones running either iOS or Android operating systems.
Citizen Lab added there had also been suspected attacks on the Foreign Office over the same two years that were also associated with Pegasus operators linked to the UAE — as well as India, Cyprus and Jordan, The Guardian reported.
The researchers, considered among the world’s leading experts in detecting digital attacks, announced they had taken the rare step of notifying Whitehall of the attack as it “believes that our actions can reduce harm”.
However, they were not able to identify the specific individuals within No. 10 and the Foreign Office who are suspected of having been hacked.
In a statement, Citizen Lab said: “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. These included: the prime minister’s office (10 Downing Street) (and) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office…
“The suspected infections relating to the FCO were associated with Pegasus operators that we link to the UAE, India, Cyprus and Jordan. The suspected infection at the UK prime minister’s office was associated with a Pegasus operator we link to the UAE.”