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Spyware attack attempts on Serbian civil society representatives’ mobile devices detected

Photo: Pixabay; kropekk_pl

BELGRADE – The SHARE Foundation expresses their deep concern regarding the discovery of the first attempt at spy attacks on the mobile devices of civil society representatives from Serbia, the statement said.

Two representatives of CSOs received a system alert on their mobile devices from Apple that they were the potential targets of state-sponsored cyber-attacks. Thanks to well-established cooperation between civil society organizations in Serbia they contacted the SHARE Foundation immediately upon receiving the alert and requested verification of the statement from the message so as to confirm whether their representatives were attacked with any known spyware.

Through cooperation with the organization Internews, the SHARE Foundation team received confirmation from Apple representatives that the alerts were authentic, after which the analysis of mobile devices began to determine if there were signs of spyware infection, the most well-known among which are Pegasus and Predator. To verify with certainty all obtained diagnostic and analytical data, as well as the encrypted copies of crucial data from the devices, the SHARE Foundation team contacted two international organizations – Access Now and Amnesty International, which have expertise in the field of digital forensics.

By having these two respectable organizations review the data, it has been confirmed that the mobile devices unsuccessful attack that took place on 16 August 2023. Both expert organizations came to the same findings – that the initial phase of the attack was attempted by attacking device vulnerabilities (“PWNYOURHOME”) which has been previously associated with the Pegasus spyware.

The SHARE Foundation believes that these spyware attacks on the representatives of the critical public have a detrimental effect on democracy and human rights, especially in the pre-election period. The use of spyware is illegal and in violation of democratic values.

“We remind you that these and similar tools for cyber-attacks on mobile devices are used by undemocratic regimes globally to spy on opposition representatives, civil society, independent media, dissidents, and others who act in the public interest”, SHARE Foundation stated.

They highlight that such activities jeopardize the freedoms of speech and assembly, as well as the right to privacy and secrecy of communication guaranteed by national and international legal frameworks.

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