Finnish diplomats’ mobile devices hacked with spyware

Jan 28, 2022, 10:11 AM | Updated: 1:27 pm

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The mobile devices of Finnish diplomats working abroad have been hacked with the use of sophisticated spyware, Finland’s government said Friday, and the Nordic country’s spy chief said a “state actor” was likely to blame.

The Finnish Foreign Ministry said the victims were targeted through Pegasus software developed by Israeli spyware company NSO Group. The software can seamlessly infiltrate a mobile phone and allow its operators to gain access to the device’s contents and location history.

“The highly sophisticated malware has infected users’ Apple or Android telephones without their noticing and without any action from the user’s part,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement which was also tweeted. “Through the spyware, the perpetrators may have been able to harvest data from the device and exploit its features.”

Jarmo Sareva, Finland’s Ambassador for Cyber Security, would not disclose the data harvested, but said under government protocols information transmitted by phone must be public or classified at the lowest level.

“As you know Pegasus spyware does take the phone under its control,” Sareva said. “Even the microphone and camera of these devices were being spied on.”

He wouldn’t say how many diplomats were targeted or in which countries they were stationed.

Asked who was believed to be behind the cyber espionage he said: “We have our suspicions of course,” but declined to elaborate.

The Foreign Ministry said it had been investigating the case since the fall, adding that “the espionage is no longer active.”

Antti Pelttari, director of the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service, later said “a state actor of some sort” was likely behind the hack.

“This (case) indicates for its part how vulnerable a mobile phone is,” Pelttari said in an interview with the Finnish broadcaster MTV3 on Friday. “One should not handle confidential information over a mobile phone. It is a vulnerable tool.”

NSO says it sells Pegasus only to governments for the purpose of fighting crime and terrorism. All sales require approval from Israel’s Defense Ministry. While it says it has safeguards in place to prevent abuse, NSO says it has no control over how a client uses the product and no access to the data they collect. It says it has terminated several contracts due to inappropriate use of Pegasus.

Confirmed targets have included Mexican and Saudi journalists, British attorneys and Palestinian human rights activists. The phones of 11 U.S. State Department employees, including some foreign service officers, working in Uganda were hacked with NSO spyware, The Associated Press and other media outlets reported last year.

AP also revealed in exclusive reports based on findings by Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog at the University of Toronto, that critics of Poland’s right-wing government were hacked using Pegasus. The hacking triggered a scandal some Poles compare to Watergate.

——

Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Finland contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio wears a hat that says The War Boys during a rally i...
Associated Press

Ex-Proud Boys leader to stay jailed until Capitol riot trial

The former top leader of the Proud Boys will remain jailed while awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with other members of the far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, a federal judge has ruled. Henry “Enrique” Tarrio poses a danger to the public […]
9 hours ago
President Joe Biden delivers his keynote address to the University of Delaware Class of 2022 during...
Associated Press

Biden tells Delaware grads to step up, ‘now it’s your hour’

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden told graduates Saturday at his alma mater, the University of Delaware, that “now it’s your hour,” as he encouraged young people in the United States to help the country live up to its ideals. Speaking to more than 6,000 graduates, and with the nation mourning victims of two […]
9 hours ago
Veldarin Jackson, Sr., center, talks about receiving the call that his mother, Janice Reed, had die...
Associated Press

Deaths of 3 women in early heat wave raise questions, fears

CHICAGO (AP) — Temperatures barely climbed into the 90s and only for a couple of days. But the discovery of the bodies of three women inside a Chicago senior housing facility this month left the city looking for answers to questions that were supposed to be addressed after a longer and hotter heat wave killed […]
9 hours ago
Teresa Parks walks in the Little Apple Pride parade Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. In...
Associated Press

Kansas equity efforts bring little change after George Floyd

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — First she saw the graphic cellphone video showing Ahmaud Arbery’s shooting death in Georgia, then news that Breonna Taylor had been shot in her Kentucky home during a botched drug raid. But when Teresa Parks watched videos of the white Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee onto a Black man’s neck, […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Harini Logan, 11, of San Antonio, smiles after correctly spelling her word as she competes i...
Associated Press

Pandemic has lingering toll on smaller National Spelling Bee

Dev Shah’s dream of returning to the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a soccer stadium, of all places. On a cool, windy February day with occasional rain showers, Dev spent five miserable hours spelling outdoors at Exploria Stadium, the home of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City club, ultimately finishing fourth in a regional bee […]
9 hours ago
This combination of two separate photos shows Herschel Walker in Atlanta, May 24, 2022, left, and S...
Associated Press

In Georgia, 2 Black candidates to compete for Senate seat

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — Wayne Black was one of the few African Americans in the crowd as about 100 people gathered recently at the Republican Party headquarters near Columbus, Georgia, to hear from U.S. Senate candidate and football legend Herschel Walker. A member of the Muscogee County Republican Executive Committee, Black said he found a […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to in April

April brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Suns and Diamondbacks.
Finnish diplomats’ mobile devices hacked with spyware