Microsoft: Israeli Company Malware Hacks Activists' Computers

MIFANS.XYZMicrosoft said they were interfering with malware by a private Israeli company that hackers use to spy on rights activists and other countries' politics. Microsoft is investigating malware called 'Sourgum' after receiving reports from Citizen Lab researchers.

Citizen Lab is a supervisory organization at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. Friday (16/6) al-Monitor reported Microsoft said the Sourgum malware appears to use malicious code or exploits via browsers and Windows including zero-day exploits.

Hackers send browser exploits targeting single-use URLs via messaging apps like WhatsApp. Citizen Lab concludes with high confidence that the actor Microsoft calls Sourgum is an Israeli company called Candiru.

According to the organization, Candiru sells espionage technology or spyware that can infect and monitor various devices and platforms, including Microsoft's Windows operating system. Citizen Lab said Candiru exclusively serves the governments of foreign countries. Previously the company reportedly sold their products to government agencies of Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Microsoft and Citizen Lab said the malware was used in high-precision attacks targeting more than 100 people worldwide. Including politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academies, embassy employees and political activists.

Nearly half of the victims identified were in the Palestinian territories. While the rest are in Israel, Iran, Lebanon, Yemen, Catalonia, Britain, Turkey, Armenia and Singapore.
Citizen Lab said it linked Candiru's spyware infrastructure to websites 'disguising as advocacy organizations' such as Amnesty International and Black Lives Matter. Researchers also detected 'like domains' of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other international agencies.

"Some of the themes strongly suggest that the targets seem to involve civil society and political activity," Citizen Lab said in their report.

In a blog post, Microsoft said it was working to address the dangers caused by cyber weapons "falling into the wrong hands and threatening human rights". Microsoft has therefore joined forces with Facebook to file a lawsuit against the NSO Group, an Israeli spyware developer accused of selling 'dangerous' surveillance devices to foreign countries.

"A world in which private sector companies sell and manufacture cyber weapons is more dangerous for consumers, businesses as a whole and governments," Microsoft said.

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