Moscow, 2 APR — “News. Economy” hackers Former US intelligence helped the United Arab Emirates to spy on the President, “al-Jazeera”, a leading bi-Bi-si and other media representatives within the framework of the secret intelligence programme of Emirates under the name “Project Raven” (Raven Project) during the blockade of Qatar, according to Reuters.
At least 9 former employees of the national security Agency (NSA), the United States worked within the framework of the project “the Raven”, which also followed the American and British journalists, activists and critics of the UAE government.
Surveillance of the Arab media began during a diplomatic dispute 2017 with Qatar, when the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and others spoke out against a small country of the Persian Gulf, accusing it of supporting terrorism. The country has imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar and demanded to close al-Jazeera, which is funded by the government of Qatar.
One of the people who were being followed were the leading Arabic bi-Bi-si Giselle Khoury, presenter of the channel “al Jazeera” Faisal al-Qassem and Sheikh Hamad bin Thamer bin Mohammed al-Thani, Board Chairman of “al-Jazeera”. Editor of the Qatari newspaper “al Arab” Abdullah al-Atba, the Director of “al-Arabi” Abdul Rahman Elshayal and founder of the newspaper “Al-Araby Al-Jadeed” Amzi Bishara, as well as journalists from London TV channel “Al Araby” and the media “Al-Hiwa”.
Ex-employees of the group Raven told the news Agency Reuters that investigators often collected a variety of information for many purposes through Karma. Also helped to access incriminating and sometimes sexually explicit photos.
In accordance with the documents at the disposal of Reuters, the work of hackers from Raven paid through the Emirati cyber security firm DarkMatter, which was established to ensure cyber security and the introduction of a complete system of control over citizens, whether dissidents or supporters of the current regime. The President of the company Faisal al-Bannai said that his company carries out operations for the protection of a number of governments from any possible threats of cyber attacks, providing a range of services for cyber security. The UAE government accounts for 80% of existing customers, so the UAE government is considered to be a strategic partner of the company.
Software for spying under the name Karma was created three years ago and used to hack into dozens of diplomats and government leaders from different countries. Karma exploits a vulnerability in the messenger, iMessage, built into iOS.
Informants of the Agency, which includes former employees of Raven Project, described the weapon as a tool that can remotely grant access to an iPhone, just by uploading the phone numbers or account e-mail to the automated targeting system.
In 2016 and 2017 AT Karma was used to obtain photographs, emails, text messages and location information from the target iPhone. In order to hack a device special services you just need to send the file via iMessage. The danger of this method was that the infection of the device the victim didn’t have to click on links or download malware masquerading as legitimate.
So the scouts got remote access to infected smartphones photos, correspondence, data on the movements and even passwords. At different times, Karma has allowed to establish surveillance of the Emir of Qatar, senior officials of Turkey and human rights defenders from Yemen, reported the Agency.
The UAE government purchased Karma from a foreign vendor. Who exactly is a developer tool, the Agency could not figure out. According to the Agency, it is unclear whether the spyware at present. Released by Apple in 2017 updates to iOS have made Karma less effective, Agency sources said.
Karma was used by the division of offensive cyber operations in Abu Dhabi, composed of employees of the security service of the Emirate and former employees of the American national security Agency (NSA), who worked as contractors to the intelligence services of the UAE.
Tools such as Karma that can simultaneously hack iPhone hundreds, collecting data about their location, photos and messages are especially needed in the face of growing cyber arms race, where Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE competing for the most advanced hacker tools and staff. It is believed that only about 10 countries such as Russia, China and the United States and its closest allies, is able to develop such weapons, said Michael Daniel, a former cybersecurity specialist at the White house under former President Barack Obama.
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