back to article Spanish PM, defense minister latest Pegasus spyware victims

Spain's prime minister and defense minister are the latest elected officials to detect Pegasus spyware on their mobile phones, according to multiple media reports quoting Spanish authorities. During a press conference on Monday, Félix Bolaños, the minister for the presidency, told reporters that cellphones of Spanish prime …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Maybe the best way to handle that would be to invite the Israeli ambassador into the Foreign Ministry for a chat and when he arrives wheel him straight into a press conference for a public bollocking.

    1. Falmari Silver badge

      The Spanish Foreign Ministry can't do that as the Spanish government would open themselves up to questions on the bugging of Catalan politicians phones with NSO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There is so much fear about what could go afloat of the Catalangate affair that the Spanish Parliament just voted against a public inquiry about Pegasus thanks to the PSOE votes. Mind you, the ruling party, the one of the spied PM.

        In fact, it's not just that the whole of the Parliament voted against, but only the 9 Mesa members (of the 350 MP) who decide which subjects can be discussed on the chamber and which not.

        Actually, the failure to block debates on the Catalan Parliament regarding independence is what cost the former Speaker of the regional chamber a 10 year jail sentence.

        So yes, the Spanish politics are well FUBAR.

        Obviously AC.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Do that and he will accuse you of being prejudiced these days, it would be much safer to just have him detained for an investigation into the source of the spyware. I'm not saying that he did it but it would be worth making him prove he didn't. Truth can be trusted, Stupidity can't be.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        > it would be worth making him prove he didn't

        Ah yes, the good old "guilty unless he can convincingly prove otherwise", the staple of all authoritarian regimes...

        Careful, don't become what you're trying to fight.

        (Didn't downvote you though.)

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    "It comes from outside state organisms and it didn't have judicial authorization."

    The Mossad approved it. What's the issue?

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      What do you want? An explanation or an apology, or is neither good for you?

  3. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

    Cyber capabilities

    I support other countries having better cyber capabilities than Israel / NSO, to counterattack.

    Its possible.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Cyber capabilities

      I support NSO not existing anymore and its owners, employees, and customers going to prison. I think that would be better as a result.

      Who would you counter-attack in this case? Would you attack the owners of NSO? Would you attack Israel's government? Would you attack the Spanish CNI? Unless your answer was only the first option, you risk at best sparking an increasingly large series of attacks and at worst targeting someone who wasn't involved and still getting that series.

      1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

        Re: Cyber capabilities

        Thats up to militarry intelligence to find out.. culprits and motive.

        Sometimes they are never found.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more questions than answers

    as an IT guy reading an IT article about malware, I really want to know; How did they detect it?

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: more questions than answers

      Me too, but that's probably secret as hell to prevent NSO from dealing with it in their next release.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: more questions than answers

      A few places have built diagnostics for it. Amnesty International did some of the initial investigations and has a tool for scanning device backups for infection. Apple has identified some of the things that indicate an attack, patched some of them, and informed targets. They have only given us details on a few of these.

      There may be other companies who also create methods to detect infections. It wouldn't surprise me that such things are in demand now that NSO's malware is as pervasive as it's turned out to be. There are probably more diagnostic methods that haven't been released as NSO can't be expected to go into hiding or get shut down by law enforcement, so it has to be treated as an active and adaptable threat.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh the irony!

    Only last week or so Ms Robles, the defence minister, was rather bizarrely trying to justify the breach of Catalan phones.

    Looking at the Spanish press, the dominant theory seems to be that the perpetrators would be the same (or there would be a large overlap) in both cases. There is apparently a Spanish deep state that answers to nobody except the memory of their former dictator Francisco Franco (and chums).

    1. Anonymous Coward
  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Catalonia is an autonomous region within Spain where there's a decades-old politically divisive fight for national independence.

    Actually, in this context Catalonia is a nation made up of people of diverse origins who happen to self identify as Catalans. Some of them may also self identify as Spanish, French, Italian, Moroccan, Welsh, Chinese or wherever their roots happen to be, but in any case we're talking about a community of people not a piece of land.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Catalonia is an autonomous region

      "Catalonia is an autonomous region" is a correct statement. Catalonia is not a people, it is a place. Thats just what the word means.

      "Catalans" may be a community of people, (who speak Catalan and live in Catalonia), you dont get to self identify round here, some one who is Catalan will tell you if you are Catalan or not. :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does Pegasus need a phone number to infect a device?

    As I understand it, Pegasus is normally installed by a zero click attack by SMS, or WhatsApp, both of which require a phone number.

    Obviously the latter is easy avoid, but would a number free data SIM solve the former? (Or would they still be able to use IMSI, and would that need co-operation of telcos?)

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge

      Re: Does Pegasus need a phone number to infect a device?

      Their implants seems to avoid some specific country codes, like USA and now UK.

      But this is a business decision. If really needed, USA/UK phones can be infected as well.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Does Pegasus need a phone number to infect a device?

      I think they can also use iMessage on IOS devices, which can use an Apple ID instead of a phone number. You can of course simply refrain from turning on iMessage as you could choose not to use WhatsApp. The question is how many features you want to turn off to increase your chances of not getting infected but not guarantee anything.

  8. TimMaher Silver badge


    Does anybody know, following on from some previous commentary, how to scan your kit for this piece of shit?

    Just for your own defence.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Defence

      Here are instructions for using the tool developed by Amnesty International's forensic people. I cannot promise that it produces perfect results or that you can't do something wrong and create a problem, but it looks straightforward enough for the technical user.

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