Archives June 29, 2020

Journalist’s phone hacked by new ‘invisible’ technique: All he had to do was visit one website, any website

The iPhone that Moroccan journalist Omar Radi used to contact his sources also allowed his government to spy on him (and at least two other journalists), reports the Toronto Star, citing new research from Amnesty International.

Their government could read every email, text and website visited; listen to every phone call and watch every video conference; download calendar entries, monitor GPS coordinates, and even turn on the camera and microphone to see and hear where the phone was at any moment.

Yet Radi was trained in encryption and cyber security. He hadn’t clicked on any suspicious links and didn’t have any missed calls on WhatsApp — both well-documented ways a cell phone can be hacked. Instead, a report published Monday by Amnesty International shows Radi was targeted by a new and frighteningly stealthy technique. All he had to do was visit one website. Any website.

Forensic evidence gathered by Amnesty International on Radi’s phone shows that it was infected by “network injection,” a fully automated method where an attacker intercepts a cellular signal when it makes a request to visit a website. In milliseconds, the web browser is diverted to a malicious site and spyware code is downloaded that allows remote access to everything on the phone. The browser then redirects to the intended website and the user is none the wiser.