This article follows (mostly) one photojournalist who has been reporting on the leader of Hungary. From Direkt36: He has been uncovering the lavish lifestyle of Viktor Orbán’s circles. This summer, he was surveilled with Pegasus spyware
Pegasus is a system of spyware developed by the NSO group. It is sold to various governments and police organizations around the world so that they can track "bad guys." in this case the version allows governments to spy on iPhones.
The spyware, developed by the Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO, could access messages, photos and videos stored on the device, or even remotely turn on the phone’s microphone and camera.
And you should note that Pegasus is not the only such system used for spying, and NSO Group not the only player in that arena. They are just in the news because they stumbled out of the shadows and into the light. And you can also bet that Hungary is not the only country doing this kind of thing.
The problem is that some governments consider journalists who report on the questionable dealings of government officials, their families and friends to be bad guys. In particular, it was determined that photographer-journalist Dániel Németh had two of his phones hacked while in Hungary reporting on the Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, and his associates.
Amnesty’s forensic analysis showed that Dániel Németh’s two phones were successfully hacked with Pegasus spyware, one from July 1 to 9, 2021, and the other from July 5 to 9. During this period, Németh was in Hungary just after returning from the reporting trip to Southern Italy. He was in the middle of planning his next trip by observing the route of the luxury vehicles used by the Fidesz elite.
And this is just one journalist being the subject of one spyware attack by one government. "Tip of the iceberg" is phrase that comes to mind.
In July, a team of international journalists published stories as part of the Pegasus Project, which were based on a database of 50,000 phone numbers selected for monitoring by NSO’s customers. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based journalism outlet, and the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) had access to the database, which they shared with 16 other news organizations, including The Washington Post, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and The Guardian. From Hungary, Direkt36 was the only participant.
The ongoing battle between Apple and iOS on the one hand, and the NSO Group and others like them on the other is one of the reasons Apple released what was dubbed an "emergency" update to iOS recently.
There are more stories of journalists being surveilled by Hungary using the Pegasus system at Direkt36, they are interspersed with a variety of other stories about Hungary, Orbán, etc. That news site helpfully translates everything into English. (Hat tip to Twitter.)