Many Al Jazeera journalists were hacked by the NSO Group, according to researchers.
An Israeli firm, known as NSO Group is said to have hacked dozens of Al Jazeera journalists, according to researchers in cyber-security. The people that have been hacked consist of 36 people of the news network—they are TV anchors, executives, and staff members.
According to the research done by cyber-security members, the hacking was done because of a flaw in the operating system of Apple’s iPhone. Despite this research, the Israeli-based NSO Group has rejected all allegations made by the cyber-security members.
The cyber-security members are from the University of Toronto, from the Citizen Lab. They say that the two hackers who were spying on the journalists of Al Jazeera were doing this on the orders of the UAE as well as the Saudi Arabian government via the journalist’s phones. According to Citizen Lab, an exploit chain known as “Kismet” was utilized to compromise the iPhones of the Al Jazeera journalists. Kismet is a flaw in Apple’s iPhone 11—was found back in July of 2020 and according to the allegations, Citizen Lab has made it to be the sole reason for the hack to have been possible.
It all started when Tamer Almisshal, a filmmaker at Al Jazeera thought that his phone was hacked. Later Citizen Lab researched and realized the phone went to a website that installed the Pegasus spyware by NSO Group. And this is how the iPhone was hacked. These allegations were quickly refuted by NSO Group saying they are just speculation and they have no hard evidence to back it up.
Seeing this, a spokesperson from Apple stated that their new operating system “iOS 14” is free of such flaws and attacks, and that they always advise and notify their users to download the latest software on their phones in order to protect their data, and especially themselves.
So far, only BBC has tried to get in touch with Al Jazeera as well as the embassies of London in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to get some insight on this issue.