The Canadian “Citizen Lab” revealed on Tuesday that a new Israeli spy program similar to the notorious “Pegasus” program was used to target journalists and opposition politicians in several countries.
The laboratory, which deals with cyberspace, global security and human rights, said that the new program was designed by a little-known Israeli company called “Quadream Limited”, founded by a former Israeli military official and former veteran employees of the “NSO” company that produced “Pegasus”.
Citizen Lab, which monitors the misuse of modern electronic devices, was able to identify at least five people who were targeted by the Quadream program in North America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
He added that the list of victims includes “journalists, opposition political figures, and a worker in a non-governmental organization,” but he preferred not to announce their identities at the present time.
Spyware programs such as Pegasus have previously been widely used by governments and other agencies to spy on dissidents, the media and activists.
The White House said in late March that governments had used Pegasus to “facilitate repression and enable human rights abuses.”
“Citizen Lab” said that the “Quadream” program, after placing it on the user’s phone or personal computer, can record calls and external sounds, take pictures from cameras, and search in device files without the user’s knowledge.
The software can also generate two-factor authentication codes, that is, a password and a security code, to secure continuous access to the device owner’s cloud accounts.
And “Citizen Lab” added that the spyware includes a self-destruct feature to hide its previous existence once it is not used. The “Citizen Lab” laboratory identified servers in 10 countries that received data from victim devices, including Israel, Singapore, Mexico, the UAE and Bulgaria.
He said that the company “Quadream” marketed the spyware it produces to government clients in Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco and others.