The mobile phones of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles have been found to be infected with Pegasus spyware, a well-known surveillance tool made by the Israeli NSO Group, government officials said in a press conference Monday.
Félix Bolaños, the presidency minister, confirmed that the spyware had penetrated the prime minister's telephone in May 2021, while the defense minister's telephone had been hacked in June 2021. The data contained in the devices had flown.
A spokesman for the NSO Group said the company "does not know the details of this case", but that the use of cyber-monitoring tools was a "serious abuse" of the technology.
Pegasus software dynamically monitors target phones for access to calls, messages, multimedia, emails, microphones and cameras. The NSO (NSO Group), sued by large technology companies and virtually blacklisted by the Biden government, it advertises its software as a means of monitoring criminal activity and terrorism by governments. But the same software has been criticized for its links to human rights abuses.
NSO Group spyware has been reported by various governments and human rights organizations, mainly targeting dissidents, journalists, activists, and government officials. The US Department of Commerce added NSO Group in the list of companies for malicious cyber activities in November 2021.
In March, the European Parliament set up a new committee to investigate the use of Pegasus spyware in various breaches in many countries, including Poland and Hungary, and is preparing a review of the surveillance law.
The Citizen Lab published a survey last month saw 65 cases of spyware being used to target European Parliament officials and Catalan presidents, legislators, lawyers and members of civil society organizations. Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain.