Electronic devices such as mobile phones infected with Pegasus, a notorious spyware program sold only to governments, have been discovered in Zambia.

The spyware, developed by Israeli cyber warfare firm NSO Group, has been used to target Journalists and human rights activists across the world.

Tech experts say the spyware gives the attacker the ability to monitor, record, and collect existing and future data from the phone.

It falls into the category of surveillance tools “that are licensed to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating crime and terror.”
NSO Group functions as a lawful company that creates advanced surveillance tools for Android and iPhone.

In a report titled ‘Hide and Seek’ which was released recently, Citizen Lab — a Canada based internet watchdog — identified 45 countries in which infected devices have been traced, after scanning the internet for servers associated with Pegasus spyware.

It also identified multiple instances of cross-border surveillance.

Twelve African countries, including Zambia, are on the list.

The others are: Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Rwanda, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and South Africa 

In a statement to Citizen Lab, NSO Group said: “Our product is licensed to government and law enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror. Our business is conducted in strict compliance with applicable export control laws.” It added that there are “multiple problems” with the Citizen Lab report, and that the list of 45 countries is inaccurate.

In response to the report, the Committee to Protect Journalists, a non-governmental organization advocating for the rights of journalists, issued a safety advisory; “The spyware gives the attacker the ability to monitor, record, and collect existing and future data from the phone. This includes calls and information from messaging applications and real-time location data. The spyware is able to remotely activate the camera and microphone to surveil the target and their surroundings … Journalists will likely only know if their phone has been infected if the device is inspected by a tech expert.”

Pegasus works on phones running Android, BlackBerry OS, and iOS operating software. It can be installed simply by clicking on a link, which is often designed to look like a message from a source or a breaking news story.

In its report, the Citizen Lab said that it had identified several operators of Pegasus that seem to be targeting African countries.

“We identify five operators focusing on Africa, including one that appears to be predominantly focusing on the West African country of Togo, a staunch Israel ally whose long-serving President has employed torture and excessive force against peaceful opposition. The operator in Togo may have used websites with names like “nouveau president” (“new president”) and “politiques infos” (“political information”) to infect targets with spyware. A separate operator that appears to focus on Morocco may also be spying on targets in other countries including Algeria, France, and Tunisia.”

Zambia’s ICT regulator ZICTA was not immediately available for a comment.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. PF00Lish regime are thieving cowards are scared of their own shadows. Instead of spying on external enemies who are a real threat, they spy on their own people who are disturbing them as they loot the national treasury & shackle us, our children & grand-children into eternal debt.

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    • I think Lungu spies on citizens simply because he wants to know first hand how people are suffering.

      To infer anything else is treasonable.

      Hearing it from the horse’s mouth enables him to implement all kinds of development.

      This is what sets Lungu apart. He is a caring, humble, God fearing man.

      This great man Lungu detests corruption, abuse/theft of tax payer’s money, and will lead this great nation as Moses did in biblical times.

      Keep it up your Excellency.

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    • Ba Maloza, you seem to be very ignorant and naive. Don’t you know that if you use the electronic media irrespective where you are someone is spying on you. Do you know Edward Snowden and did you listen to what he said about the electronic media and how they are now using hardware instead of software to spy world over. Every country does it and that is how they maintain security. If the Germany Chancellor can have her phone calls recorded, what about an ordinary citizen and remember Obama’s answer when prodded over the same, he said every country does it but it is only that the Americans are the best.

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    • Corrupt Lungu and his PF minions are getting desperate. Scared of their own shadows. They know their stealing will eventually catch up with them. It’s just a matter of time. In 2021, we’ll need to vote for anybody who will promise to investigate these gangsters for corruption, and help put them behind bars for a long time.

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  2. PF is up to no good. The earlier we get rid of them in 2021, the better. Everything about them is nauseating. Jets, SCT, wheelbarrows, inflated roads, ambulance the list goes on and on. Yaba.

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  3. POLITICAL CADRES SHOULD LEAVE THE LT TO SOBER MINDED PEOPLE TO COMMENT ON POLITICAL NEWS ARTICLES NOT THIS RANTING WE ARE SEEING FROM CADRES

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  4. Tayali must see this since he told us its the UPND doing it, was he trying to cover up for his pay masters once they knew this info was going to be public sooner?

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  5. We only have PAC and Andyford Banda(some of these names also, like for a car) only good thing is that the guy is sharp. I think he can lead us

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  6. At least Zambians who only believe in foreign generated news can now know why I have taken legal action against Airtel in Zambia. The Spyware was introduced by Mr. George Chella in 2013. MTN refused to be used by Airtel agreed.

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    • Meant but Airtel agreed. Even most lawyers who represented former President Rupiah Banda in the Nigerian Oil saga had their phones monitored.

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  7. Cowards and wrong dowers like PamaFi goons always trying to sniff. Thats cowardice. Just face the facts as they come not sniffing – Bututu ubo mwembwamwe!!! Even trapping girl friend’s conersations is utter rubbish. It just shows cowardice than facing the facts. Besides its illegal
    U r a disaster!!!

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  8. The world order dawned a long time.I am afraid this has nothing to do with lungu or PF,too small for this kind of game.Survelilance has been around.Above as below,satellites,facebook,google and countless others.The eye is on you 24/7.Android is an eye.Trust me ,you are better off …off social media.Wake up world!!

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  9. Ok, as a hacker and a user of backtrack 5 and backbox linux software, the simple truth is plz don’t like or comment on the presidents page on facebook, don’t open links on facebooks. The government is a serious dangerous group of individual that take everything serious they have the technology to monitor everything on your pc.

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  10. “Zambia’s ICT regulator ZICTA was not immediately available for a comment.” I bet they weren’t! The problem with measures like this is that if someone is determined to spread terrorism to the peace-loving country of Zambia, they will probably use basic burner phones to evade surveillance. This sort of measure can also be misused to spy on people who have committed no crime and never intend to, such as bona fide democratic dissenters. As usual it is ordinary people who pay the price with their civil liberties, not terrorists (who have in effect won by making life more dangerous for ordinary people).

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  11. Mapatizya Formula is the UPND official position this tribal party of trying to sway public opinion and win sympathy by throwing a kitchen sink at the duly elected government of Zambia so that people may think the government is evil. It is motivated by anger and bitterness by a five time presidential candidate loser, a TONGA who leads what many experts believe is a TRIBAL organisation masquerading as a Party. In their thirst for power they use underhand methods to win sympathy but HH, also known as UNDER FIVE, is not popular in Zambia and is UNELECTABLE which means the formula will NEVER work because Zambians are wiser than CHILDISH.

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  12. Lungu is spying on us. This Spyware is obtained from Israel by governments that want to spy on their people. Lungu went to Israel a couple of times to seal the deal. Spying on your citizens is a crime. Zambia s lawyers should show us how clued up they are with the laws and citizens rights

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  13. I do not support any political party in Zambia right now but to be honest, the Current government of President Edgar Lungu has nothing to do with this intrusion. It was under Late President Michael Sata. Some people took advantage of Mr. Michael Sata’s health and went all the way to do this. George Chella was behind this. Do Zambians remember the time of Bashi Nono? or the time then Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda was recorded saying ” Tuma Wine Talwekana likana”? On this one I can die defending the current administration. Yes there are some people who participated in the scheme and still in government but they like many other civil servants who are not brave enough were just pawns. It was George and his masters from Bwinjimfumu road who introduced this. Mark my words.

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