Predator; another Israeli spyware used to hack Greek official's phone
The Greek government is embroiled in a crisis over the deployment of the Israeli Predator spyware after a Greek ex-minister's phone was bugged.
Israeli-made spyware, Predator, was used to hack into a Greek ex-minister's phone in the third case of a Greek national being targeted with the malware.
Greece is involved in a massive political scandal over revelations involving spyware, which was found on the phone of a prominent investigative journalist and the leader of the country's social democratic party.
In the most recent case, a former lawmaker and Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Christos Spirtzis, a member of the left-wing party SYRIZA, was hacked in 2021 using a malicious link that also reached and infected the phone of journalist Thanasis Koukakis.
The head of Greece's intelligence service Panagiotis Kontoleon stepped down amid increased scrutiny of the agency's surveillance practices, including an accusation by an opposition party leader that his phone was bugged by Predator in 2021.
Greece admitted to conducting surveillance, claiming that it was done legally, but it did not say if it used the Predator spyware created by the Israeli-owned firm Intellexa and its subsidiary CYTROX.
The latter is registered in North Macedonia and operates in Greece.
Intellexa is run by a former Israeli military intelligence official Tal Dilian. The company moved to Greece after it was in Cyprus.
Predator and Pegasus spyware are very similar to each other, with the latter made by the competing and more famous cyber firm NSO Group. Like Pegasus, Predator allows the operator to access the entire contents of the target’s phone, as well as secretly activate its camera and phone and recording.
The latest minister hacking scandal was revealed in May when Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's phone was subjected to a cyberattack using Israeli Pegasus spyware, and data was stolen from the device.
The hacking took place in May 2021 through Israeli spyware, Felix Bolanos, the secretary of state of the Prime Minister's office, announced at a news conference. He also revealed that Defense Minister Margarita Robles' phone had been met with the same fate.
Last year, five French ministers and a diplomatic consultant of French President Emmanuel Macron were targeted with "Israel's" Pegasus spyware, sources told AFP, confirming earlier reports by investigative website Mediapart.
French security services caught the spyware while checking the phones. It is believed that the infiltrations took place in 2019 and 2020, according to Mediapart's report.