Friday 08 December 2023

Senior EU officials were targeted with Israeli spyware - sources

Senior officials at the European Commission were targeted last year with spy software designed by an Israeli surveillance firm, according to two EU officials and documentation reviewed by Reuters.

Among them was Didier Reynders, a senior Belgian statesman who has served as the European Justice Commissioner since 2019, according to one of the documents. At least four other commission staffers were also targeted, according to the document and another person familiar with the matter. The two EU officials confirmed that staffers at the commission had been targeted but did not provide details.


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," the two EU officials said. It was the first time Apple had sent a mass alert to users that they were in government hackers' crosshairs.

The warnings triggered immediate concern at the commission, the two officials said. In a Nov. 26 email reviewed by Reuters, a senior tech staffer sent a message to colleagues with background about Israeli hacking tools and a request to be on the lookout for additional warnings from Apple.


"Given the nature of your responsibilities, you are a potential target," the staffer said in the email, reviewed by Reuters.


News of the targeting comes as the European Union is beginning to follow the United States in taking a harder look at spyware merchants like NSO.

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