Senior EU officials targeted with Israeli spyware
At least four commission staffers and senior European Commission officials were targeted with spy software designed by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group.
Two EU officials revealed that senior officials at the European Commission were targeted in 2021 with Israeli NSO Group spyware, Reuters reported.
Among the targeted was Didier Reynders, a senior Belgian statesperson who has served as the European Justice Commissioner since 2019.
According to Reuters, at least four other commission staffers were targeted, a document and a source familiar with the matter revealed.
The two EU officials said that the commission "became aware of the targeting following messages issued by Apple to thousands of iPhone owners in November telling them they were 'targeted by state-sponsored attackers.'"
A senior tech staffer at the EU Commission sent a message to staffers, requesting them "to be on the lookout for additional warnings from Apple," Reuters said.
"Given the nature of your responsibilities, you are a potential target," the tech staffer warned in the email reviewed by Reuters.
NSO claimed it was not responsible for the hacking
The news agency indicated that "Security researchers have said the recipients of the warnings were targeted between February and September 2021 using ForcedEntry, an advanced piece of software that was used by Israeli cyber surveillance vendor NSO Group to help foreign spy agencies remotely and invisibly take control of iPhones."
For its part, NSO claimed it was not responsible for the hacking attempts, considering that the targeting "could not have happened with NSO's tools."
According to the two EU sources, "IT experts examined at least some of the officials' smartphones for signs of compromise but the results were inconclusive," Reuters underlined.
European Parliament to investigate use of surveillance software
It is noteworthy that the European Parliament would launch on April 19 an investigation on the use of surveillance software in EU member states, confirmed EU lawmaker Sophie in 't Veld.
Although Polish and Hungarian governments have denied accusations of spying, Polish officials and a Hungarian lawmaker have said that their governments purchased NSO software.
Kenneth Lasoen, a research fellow at the Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations, underscored that the EU officials “are a very high profile target for multiple actors,” adding that “Brussels is a true nest of espionage.”