In a report published on September 18, Citizen Lab said it had detected Pegasus, a spyware created for mobile devices, in over 45 countries. Pegasus, which transforms a cellphone into a mobile surveillance station, could have been deployed against a range of journalists and civil society actors in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Morocco, Togo, Israel, the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates, the report found.
Researchers have previously identified a number of major Pegasus campaigns, including one against investigative journalists in Mexico, and another against human rights workers in Saudi Arabia. The spyware’s presence in 45 countries raises significant implications for journalists, both in terms of their own security as well as the safety of their sources.
The spyware gives the attacker the ability to monitor, record, and collect existing and future data from the phone. This includes calls and information from messaging applications and real-time location data. The spyware is able to remotely activate the camera and microphone to surveil the target and their surroundings.
Pegasus is designed to be installed on phones running Android, BlackBerry OS, and iOS without alerting the target to its presence. Journalists will likely only know if their phone has been infected if the device is inspected by a tech expert.
Pegasus can be installed in a number of ways. Journalists should be aware of these methods and take appropriate steps to protect them and their sources.
Attackers create tailor-made messages that are sent to a specific journalist. These messages convey a sense of urgency and contain a link or a document which the journalist is encouraged to click on. The messages come in a variety of forms, including SMS, email, through messaging apps such as WhatsApp or via messages on social media platforms. Once the journalist has clicked on the link, then the spyware is installed on their phone.
Research by Citizen Lab and Amnesty International found that messages tend to take the following forms: Messages purporting to be from a known organization such as an embassy or a local news organization.
Messages that warn the target may be facing an immediate security threat. Messages that raise any work-related issue, such as covering an event that the target usually reports on.
Messages that make appeals to personal matters, such as those relating to compromising photos of partners. Financial messages that reference purchases, credit cards, or banking details. The suspect messages may also arrive from unknown numbers.
Attackers can target personal and work phones. To better protect themselves and their sources, journalists should:
Verify the link with the sender through a different channel of communication. This should preferably be through video or voice.
If the sender is not previously known to you, secondary channels may not provide successful verification of the links, as secondary channels may be set up by the adversary as part of an elaborate cover identity.
If the link utilizes a URL shortener service like TinyURL or Bitly, input the link into a URL expander service such as Link Expander or URLEX. If the expanded link looks suspicious, for instance mimicking a local news website but not being quite the same, do not click the link and forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel you need to open the link, do not use your primary device. Open the link on a separate, secondary device that does not have any sensitive information or contact details, and is used solely for viewing links. Carry out a factory reset on the device regularly (keeping in mind that this might not remove the spyware). Keep the secondary device turned off, with the battery removed, when not in use.
Use a non-default browser for the phone. Pegasus is believed to target default browsers. The default browser for Android is Chrome and the default browser for iOS is Safari. Use an alternative browser such as Firefox Focus and open the link in that. However, there is no guarantee that Pegasus will not, or has not, already targeted other browsers.
Physically installed by an adversary
Pegasus can also be installed on your phone if an adversary gains physical access to the device. To reduce risk:
Do not leave your device unattended and avoid handing over your phone to others.
When crossing a border or checkpoint ensure that you can see your phone at all times Turn off the phone before arriving at the checkpoint, and have a complex passphrase consisting of both letters and numbers. Be aware that if your phone is taken then the device may be compromised.
If you believe your phone is infected by Pegasus immediately stop using that phone and purchase another one. You should leave the suspected device in a place that does not compromise you or your surroundings. If you have access to tech support through a media organization, contact them immediately for assistance. If you are a freelance journalist or a journalist that does not have access to tech support, contact the Access Now Helpline.
CPJ is working alongside our partners to understand the full scope of the threat Pegasus poses to journalists. If you have received a suspicious message and believe you may have been targeted by Pegasus, please forward the message to email@example.com. This information will be handled confidentially.
For more information on technology security we encourage journalists to review the CPJ’s Security Guide’s Chapter on Technology Security and see the digital safety information included in our Resource Center.
With thanks to Citizen Lab for valuable ins
Group calls on govt to quell Nigeria’s Crisis
Human rights Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, known as Association of Youths for Justice and Equal Rights, AYJER, has called on government at all levels to quell the current looming crisis in the country.
In a press statement, Chairman of AYJER from USA, Mr. Julius Gbolahan Motajo, who reiterated that the current state of Nigeria’s polity, condemned the gross ineptitude and misconduct shown by the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, during the recent Osun guber elections, which he described as threat to democracy as it was characterized by violence perpetrated and malpractices of vote buying by politicians under the supervision of an electoral umpire that is expected to conduct free and fair elections.
He charged for an enabling voting atmosphere for eligible Nigerians who have attained the universal suffrage age of 18, also urging the youths to be resilient in their mandates of selecting credible candidates of their choices.
Mr. Motajo also called on for government’s intervention on security, through the enforcement of patriotic security agencies that would ensure the safety of Nigerians, mostly those in the north east/north central zones, urging them to beef up the security apparatuses to quell the onslaught of insurgency meted on innocent citizens, as he made reference to a recent case of massacre that took place in Jos, plateau state, where a family of nine were gruesomely murdered.
“During the just concluded osun state Governorship election, having denounced the activities of the INEC, and the intimidation meted on the electorate does not portray the electorate umpires in conducting a free and fair election.
“This organization reiterated that the recent political landscape is blowing an ill wind that is capable of disturbing the tents of Democracy.
“In Nigeria it is time to provide conducive atmosphere for those that had attained the age of 18, and above to confidently cast their vote for candidates of their choice. We call on all eligible voters especially the youths to be steadfast and ensure that they vote for the party that will deliver the dividends of Democracy to its citizens.
“It is no doubt that we vehemently condemned any party leader that is involved in the selling of the highest bidder of vote, this singular act does not encourage growth and development in the community.
“The media had been awash with snatching of ballot boxes, and shooting of gun at the polling stations by scaring the electorate is not healthy for our democracy.
“We urge the Government of the day to mobilize the law enforcement agencies to arrest culprits and bandits that go to polling stations to disorganised the polling state that sometimes culminate to stampede and stress.
“Government needs to send a large number of our law enforcement agencies to the crisis torn states to forestall and quell the insurgencies. Security apparatuses should be impartial in the discharge of their duties, rather than taking side on the part of the ruling party.
“The carnage for the herdsmen and farmers dual had caused untold hardship to the people of the Northeast, northwest and the north central. Only recently a family of about nine members were murdered in cold blood in plateau.” Motajo said.
Alleged corruption allegations: Oracle Magazine withdraws suits against Aiteo Group
…Commends Benedict Peter’s patriotism
The management of National Oracle Magazine said it has withdrawn suits filled against a foremost indigenous crude oil exploration company, the Aiteo group, compelling some government agencies to disclose all information and documents pertaining the business activities of organization.
The media house had sought an Order of Mandamus from the Federal High Court, Abuja to compel the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to release some vital information and documents pertaining the business activities of Aiteo Group.
But in a statement signed Saturday in Abuja, the Editor-in-Chief, National Oracle Magazine, Dr. Blessing Agbomhere, said his media organisation has discovered that “the corruption allegationsallegations leveled against Aiteo is an alarmist hoax being peddled by a pocket of individuals with vested interest to wear Aiteo Group and its promoters a black garment before the Nigerian and British governments.”
Dr. Blessing Agbomhere, who is also the Executive Secretary, Gatekeepers Foundation, while commending the promoter of Aiteo group, Benedict Peters, said investigations revealed that Aito group and it promoters have been in the petroleum business since year 2000, and about same time have invested billions of Naira, though borrowed, into the Nigerian oil sector.
While calling on Nigerian government to give the indigenous oil company all the necessary support, the statement said that “In furtherance of its investigation, National Oracle Magazine has discovered conspiracy by highly placed individuals against Aiteo Group and its promoters. All corrupt allegations against Aiteo is an alarmist hoax being peddled by a pocket of individuals with vested interest to wear Aiteo Group and its promoters a black garment before the Nigerian and British governments.
“National Oracle Magazine investigation reveals that the Aiteo Group and its promoters have been in the petroleum business about the year 2000, and about same time have invested billions of naira, though borrowed, into the Nigerian oil sector. What Aiteo Group has achieved today is a result of hard work, business intelligence and commitment to growing the Nigerian economy.
“Aiteo Group, an indigenous company, has contributed immensely to the development of the Nigerian oil and gas sector; empowering Nigerians in so many aspects of life. Rather than allowing individuals no matter how highly place to orchestrate clandestine plots to bring down Aiteo Group and its promoters, the Nigerian government must give Aiteo Group the needed support to continue to grow as Nigerians and the Nigerian government are the biggest beneficiaries of Aiteo’s growth.”
International Road Transport Organisation (IRU) Media Prize awarded to journalist Mike King from Breakbulk, USA
Mike King is a multi-award-winning journalist, as well as a shipping and logistics consultant
International Road Transport Organisation (IRU), the world road transport organisation today announces the winner of the 2018 IRU Media Prize on the future of transport and trade.
The IRU Media Prize celebrates the significant contribution of journalists to current debate within the transport sector, and coincides with the upcoming IRU World Congress in Oman, 6-8 November 2018, the new global event for road transport, mobility and logistics.
Mike King (@Break_Bulk) is a multi-award-winning journalist, as well as a shipping and logistics consultant. His piece, entitled “Trouble with Truckers” , addresses issues such as driver shortage and new opportunities for transport through e-commerce.
IRU received entries from across the world, signifying a strong interest in the industry among journalists. Mike King’s entry was one of three shortlisted. The other two finalists were Ilker Altun from Kargo Haber and Jonathan Andrews from Cities Today.
“I am looking forward to personally congratulating Mike in Oman at the IRU World Congress, where we will recognise his and the media’s important work to push debate around the critical issues for the road transport industry – and beyond,” said IRU Secretary General, Umberto de Pretto.
The competition was open to journalists from international and regional media who published or broadcast original reports. Articles or broadcasts were submitted in English or Arabic, with eligible works published between 19 June and 10 October 2018. Stories were judged on content, writing, analysis, creativity, human interest and clear reporting.
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- Group calls on govt to quell Nigeria’s Crisis
- Alleged corruption allegations: Oracle Magazine withdraws suits against Aiteo Group
- International Road Transport Organisation (IRU) Media Prize awarded to journalist Mike King from Breakbulk, USA
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