Apple iPhone 6Source: iMore

What you need to know

  • Journalists and activists in El Salvador have been targeted by Pegasus spyware.
  • El Salvador government says it too has been a target.

The infamous NSO Group's spyware app, Pegasus, has been found to have been used to hack into devices owned by journalists and activists in El Salvador, according to a new report. The discovery was made after two journalists reached out to Citizen Lab with concerns that their devices had been compromised.

Both journalists and activists critical of alleged government corruption appear to have been targeted, with an investigation confirming that devices had indeed been attacked according to a Reuters report.

Citizen Lab said it found evidence of incursions on the phones that occurred between July 2020 and November 2021. It said it could not identify who was responsible for deploying the Israeli-designed spyware. Known as Pegasus, the software has been purchased by state actors worldwide, some of whom have used the tool to surveil journalists.

President Nayib Bukele says that his country doesn't work with NSO Group, going on to also confirm that an investigation would be opened. It was also claimed that government officials were also targeted.

In a statement to Reuters, Bukele's communications office said the government of El Salvador was not a client of NSO Group Technologies, the company that developed Pegasus. It said the administration is investigating the alleged hacking and had information that some top administration officials also might have had their phones infiltrated.

"We have indications that we, government officials, are also victims of attacks," the statement said.

Pegasus has been used by various outfits to access text messages, call histories, and more on devices that they believe may be of interest. Those devices often belong to members of the press as well as anyone they believe to be a threat.

Apple recently filed a Lawsuit against NSO Group and reports suggest the outfit is considering closing the spyware operation as it burns through cash.