At a glance.
- Update on TTEC ransomware incident.
- Pegasus spyware targets Belgian journalist.
- App lets Iranians communicate in code.
Update on TTEC ransomware attack.
As we noted last week, customer service giant TTEC experienced a ransomware attack likely executed by the notorious Ragnar Locker threat group. Now, according to Nasdaq, TTEC reports they’ve resolved the attack. Upon discovery of the intrusion, TTEC immediately isolated the impacted systems in order to contain the fallout. Though the attack rendered some employees unable to connect to the network to conduct their work, TTEC says the company is now fully operational. No word on whether a ransom was paid.
Belgian couple targeted by Pegasus spyware.
As the list of civilians targeted by NSO Group’s controversial Pegasus software grows, Haaretz reports that a Belgian journalist and his wife were also attacked using the spyware, and based on the timing of the incident, they were likely targeted by the Rwandan government. Peter Verlinden, now an independent journalist, was an African affairs reporter for Belgian broadcaster VRT, and his wife Marie Bamutese is a Rwandan refugee and Belgian citizen. The Wire explains that Belgium’s military intelligence service, which was investigating several Belgian citizens as potential Pegasus targets, found evidence of infection on the couple’s phones beginning in the fall of 2020, around the same time Rwanda was under fire for the arrest of human rights activist Paul Rusesabagina. The Rwandan government has been an NSO client since 2017, and Rusesabagina’s home was also found to be under Pegasus surveillance. In response to the allegations, NSO stated: “From the scant information that was presented to us, it seems that there is no connection between the incident and NSO and our technology. If we receive evidence of misuse, we will investigate it, and if such a thing is found, we will use the sanctions at our disposal, including terminating the program.” Al Jazeera offers an in-depth overview of the Pegasus Project, the consortium of media outlets that worked with Amnesty International and Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories to expose how governments around the world are allegedly using NSO’s software to spy on civilians.
New app allows Iranians to communicate in code.
Wired reports that an Android communications app is offering Iranians a way to circumvent government surveillance. The encryption tool, called Nahoft (or “hidden” in Farsi) will take any message and turn it into a seemingly illegible word scramble. The writer can send the coded dispatch to a recipient via any messaging platform, and Nahoft will decode the message on the recipient’s phone. Created by San Francisco-based human rights and civil liberties group United for Iran, the open-source app works locally on the user’s device, giving Iranians a means to speak freely when internet-based apps like WhatsApp aren’t available due to government-imposed internet blackouts. Firuzeh Mahmoudi, United for Iran's executive director, explains, “When the internet goes down in Iran, people can’t communicate with their families inside and outside the country, and for activists everything comes to a screeching halt.” The app also offers users the option of embedding their message in an image.