The US National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) and the Department of State have published joint guidance that provides best practices on defending against attacks carried out by threat actors using commercial surveillance tools.
In the last years, we have reported several cases of companies selling commercial surveillance tools to governments and other entities that have used them for malicious purposes.
Surveillance tools can be used to record audio, including phone calls, track the phone’s location, and access and retrieve all content on a phone (i.e. text messages, files, chats, commercial messaging app content, contacts, and browsing history).
These tools were used in attacks aimed at journalists, dissidents, and other persons around the world.
“Journalists, dissidents, and other persons around the world have been targeted and tracked using these tools, which allow malign actors to infect mobile and internet-connected devices with malware over both WiFi and cellular data connections.” reads the guidance. “In some cases, malign actors can infect a targeted device with no action from the device owner. In others, they can use an infected link to gain access to a device.”
Below is the list of cybersecurity practices recommended by the NCSC and the US State Department to mitigate the risk of exposure to attacks using these tools:
In November, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) sanctioned four companies for the development of spyware or the sale of hacking tools used by nation-state actors.
NSO Group and Candiru are being sanctioned for the development and sale of surveillance software used to spy on journalists and activists.
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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, surveillance tools)