GRC Viewpoint

New Commercial Spyware Warning Issued by the U.S. Government

Security experts associated with the U.S. government have issued warnings against a new commercial spyware. The joint issue by the state department and NCSC further confirmed that the spyware would be able to control device locations, phone calls, or any content on devices. When we say the word content, it could be chats, stored files, messages, apps, contacts, or even browsing data.


This notification is a timely response from the government. A few weeks ago, nine of the state department staffers suffered from data threats. A spyware remotely hacked their iPhones. The spyware was issued by the NSO Group, a highly controversial surveillance firm. Further details confirm that Pegasus malware was utilized to carry out the attack on these employees. Many of them were Uganda-based, while others were working on projects related to the African country.


The warning involves guidance for possible spyware targets on safeguarding themselves from unsolicited surveillance. 


The notice further implied that the main targets of the spyware would be internet-connected devices or mobile using wi-fi or cellular data connections.


Some governments are using commercial surveillance software to target dissidents, journalists & others around the globe who they perceive as critics,” says a Twitter post from the NCSC (the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center). In some cases, malign actors can infect a targeted device with no action from the device owner. In others, they can use an infected link to gain access to a machine,” further adds the notification. 


The advice included in the notification for potential targets is many. Regular upgrade of software is strongly recommended. Also, potential targets are advised against clicking on links that are part of unwanted messages or part of password-protected devices. Further, devices require regular restarting to assist in removing malware implants. In addition, individuals are supposed to use reliable VPNs and disable geolocation options. 

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