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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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
Bauchi Assembly passes bill for the management of its funds and two others bills
The Bauchi State House of Assembly has passed the bill in to law for the management of its funds.
The Chairman House finance Committee Mr Abdullahi Abubakar disclosed this in an interview with Newsmen in Bauchi on friday.
“After a clause-to-clause consideration of the bill, the Speaker, Mr.Kawuwa Shehu Damina invited the Clerk of the House, to read the bill for the third time signifying its passage,” he said
He said the bill was signed in to law at a plenary session on Wednesday to provide the management of funds accruing to the Bauchi state House of Assembly from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the state.
“In order to ensure accountability, transparency, effective and efficient utilisation of the fund,” Abubakar said
He stated that the bill will give effect to the forth alteration bill to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria that provided for the autonomy of the state Assembly and judiciary.
Abubakar explained that the bill would ensured that any amount standing to the credit of the legislature in the CRF of the state will be paid directly to the statutory account of the legislature where monies received from CRF will be deposited.
He said that the causes contained in the bill are sufficiently enough to provide modalities for the smooth, effective and efficient implementation of financial autonomy in the house.
Meanwhile the house pass other 2 bills which pass the third reading at plenary on Thursday.
The speaker Mr Damina mentioned tha the bills for a law to establish the Bauchi state Market Advisory Council and for connected purposes.
“The second one is a bill for a law to harmonize the activities of development partners in the state, to provide for the establishment of directorate in planning commission for administration of donor partners support.
The speaker Damina after house deliberations then ordered the Clerk to the house to read the bill for the third time signifying its passage.
NGO trains 1000 vulnerable women, PLWHA on skills acquisition in Bauchi
A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Bauchi Rahma Women Development Programme has trained 1000 vulnerable women and persons living with HIV/AIDS on various skills acquisitions.
Mrs Miriam Iliya the Executive Director Rahma Women Development made this known at the inauguration of Board of trustees in Bauchi on Friday.
“We embarked on the trainings in collaboration with the support of some international partners, the training was conducted within the period of nine months.
“The NGO was committed to make the trainees to become employers of labour in the future and be self reliance.
“The beneficiaries includes the People Living with HIV/AIDs and other vulnerable women whom were trained on different skills acquisitions such as Tailoring, Knitting, Barbing, Hair dressing saloon, Pomade and soap making and baking.
“We also give counselling to (PLWHA) to let them know that being positive is not the end of their lives and also disabuse their mind on the stereotype,”she said.
She however reminded the newly inaugurated board members that they are the custodians of the NGO and always to ensure right things goes in the right direction.
Earlier speaking the the Chairman Board of Directors Rahma Women Development Alhaji Bello Inuwa said the NGO had implemented several projects through international partners in various sectors that impact positively to the lives of people of Bauchi state.
“We carry out interventions in different various sectors such as health, education, water sanitation and hygiene, and micro finance credit facilities to women,” he said
Bello urged government at all levels to support local NGOs to improve the lives of the citizens: nothing that is only the NGOs that interact much with the grass roots people for implementation of projects.
School teacher assaulted, manhandled by officers at Mabushi station
A serving teacher with Dominion International School, Jabi, Abuja, Iorember Doolumun, recently reported that he was maimed by two men of the police force from Surveillance Unit, Mabushi Divisional Police Station while having breakfast in Gishiri Village.
Mr. Doolumun who revealed that he was still in a devastated mood, told journalist that he had only gone for a tea break in Gishiri Village when two armed men stormed the spot to order everyone to lie flat on the floor but despite his decent quest to ascertain the reason for such an assaultive invasion, he got loads of slaps and kick boots from the officers, who told him he was speaking too much grammar, noting that they were also graduates, before conveying him to the Gishiiri Police station in hand cuffs, to get two more slaps for explaining that he had asked a simple civil question.
He further disclosed that he was forced to append to a statement titled, ‘An assault on a police officer’, after which a fine of N10, 000 was paid by friends as ransome for his release, as he cautioned the federal government to quiz the status of such security men for the future of Nigeria, mostly as the 2019 elections are around the corner. He said:
“I went out to eat that morning at a spot in Gishiri village and it was barely minutes when I entered the place that two policemen from Surveillance Unit at Mabushi Divisional Police station invaded the restaurant and ordered everyone to lie flat on the floor.
“I politely asked why they had to assault innocent citizens but in response, they pounced on me with slaps on my ears and kickings all over, telling me they were also graduates before conveying me to the station, where the officer in-charge gave me two more slaps, saying I had assaulted police officers on duty.
“I was forced to write and sign a statement titled, ‘An assault on police officer’, before I was released on bail after payment of a N10, 000 as fine, and I can barely hear well with my ears even as I speak to you, and my limbs are even swollen from the battering.
“It’s very worrisome to think that these are the same supposed custodians of peace in the country and will be the ones to be used as security in the forthcoming elections.
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- Bauchi Assembly passes bill for the management of its funds and two others bills
- NGO trains 1000 vulnerable women, PLWHA on skills acquisition in Bauchi
- School teacher assaulted, manhandled by officers at Mabushi station
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