Finland's Ambassador for Cyber Security Jarmo Sareva speaks during an interview. File photo
The mobile devices of Finnish diplomats working abroad have been hacked with the use of sophisticated spyware, Finland's government said on Friday, and the Nordic country's spy chief said a "state actor” was likely to blame.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry said Israeli spyware company NSO Group targeted the victims through Pegasus software. The software can seamlessly infiltrate a mobile phone and allow its operators to gain access to the device’s contents and location history.
"The highly sophisticated malware has infected users’ Apple or Android telephones without their noticing and without any action from the user’s part,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement which was also tweeted. "Through the spyware, the perpetrators may have been able to harvest data from the device and exploit its features.”
Jarmo Sareva, Finland's Ambassador for Cyber Security, would not disclose the data harvested, but said under government protocols information transmitted by phone must be public or classified at the lowest level.
"As you know Pegasus spyware does take the phone under its control,” Sareva said. "Even the microphone and camera of these devices were being spied on.”
He wouldn't say how many diplomats were targeted or in which countries they were stationed.
Asked who was believed to be behind the cyber espionage he said: "We have our suspicions of course,” but declined to elaborate.
The Foreign Ministry said it had been investigating the case since the fall, adding that "the espionage is no longer active.”
It explained that this information is one’s personal information as displayed on his/her Alhosan passes, the QR code generated by one’s pass, which cannot be shared with others.
In addition, the personal information that may be leaked is the e-mail address and customer management number, and "other information such as name, phone number, credit card, etc. is not affected," it added.
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