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Government Privacy

Saudi Government Targeting Dissidents With Mobile Malware 41

Posted by timothy
from the they-don't-go-in-for-a-slap-on-the-wrist dept.
wiredmikey (1824622) writes Human Rights Watch on Friday demanded a clarification from Saudi Arabia over allegations from security researchers that the kingdom is infecting and monitoring dissidents' mobile phones with surveillance malware. The New York-based rights watchdog said surveillance software allegedly made by Italian firm Hacking Team mostly targeted individuals in Qatif district in Eastern Province, which has been the site of sporadic Shiite-led protests since February 2011. "We have documented how Saudi authorities routinely crack down on online activists who have embraced social media to call out human rights abuses," said Cynthia Wong, HRW's senior Internet researcher. "It seems that authorities may now be hacking into mobile phones, turning digital tools into just another way for the government to intimidate and silence independent voices." The accusations against the Saudi Government come days after researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab uncovered new details on advanced surveillance tools offered by HackingTeam [Note: mentioned in this earlier Slashdot story], including never before seen implants for smartphones running on iOS and Android.
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Saudi Government Targeting Dissidents With Mobile Malware

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  • by mcolgin (818580) on Friday June 27, 2014 @07:56PM (#47337731) Homepage
    ...we uttered it first and with every month, there's another example of it. Can you believe we carry around these "ankle tracking" devices in our pockets?!?!
    • Mobile malware => android malware. The mobile hacking tools profiled earlier this week and assumed to be in play here only work on android and jailbreaked ios. All ios malware in existence relies on users to break their own security first, using tools that come from shadowy overseas orgs. Whaaa? I was haxored? No shit Sherlock. Consider this before choosing your next ankle tracker.
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by m00sh (2538182)

        Mobile malware => android malware. The mobile hacking tools profiled earlier this week and assumed to be in play here only work on android and jailbreaked ios. All ios malware in existence relies on users to break their own security first, using tools that come from shadowy overseas orgs. Whaaa? I was haxored? No shit Sherlock. Consider this before choosing your next ankle tracker.

        What if there is software put in by Apple from a request by the government? That's not malware then?

        What about shadowy domestic orgs who are more powerful and better funded?

        • ok. on the one hand, a phone platform with proven vulnerabilities in software and hardware that allows users to get owned every which way. On the other hand, a phone platform that has proven to be rock solid and secure against malware. However, the better platform could be owned by a cabal of nefarious actors. so they're basically equivalent, despite one is proven swiss cheese and the other is a made up story.

          put it another way, has any evidence been uncovered of a backdoor of this type? Or is the absence
          • by m00sh (2538182)

            put it another way, has any evidence been uncovered of a backdoor of this type? Or is the absence of evidence just more confirmation of secret backdoors?

            Depends on your definition of backdoor and malware.

            A couple of years ago, security researchers found that Apple kept a log of every place you went [theguardian.com] and uploaded the entire data to their servers. Apple dismissed it as a bug in the code they wrote but was it really a bug or did they just get caught?

            Also, there are companies that are selling iPhone cracking to the LEOs [slashdot.org] using "undisclosed vulnerabilities". And of course, Apple will do that by itself [cnet.com].

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Saudi Mobile Malware, the thing that immediately pops to mind is not electronics but the very mobile terrorist funding cheque books. I know they own large chunks of the US political scene but how the fuck do they continue to get away with funding terrorism on a global scale via their Wahhabist indoctrination centres. There was that whole threat by Russia to directly retaliate against Saudi Arabia if there were any Islamist attacks on the Sochi Olympics and well, they were pretty much trouble free. So why i

  • detection (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aryeh Goretsky (129230) on Friday June 27, 2014 @08:18PM (#47337845) Homepage

    Hello,

    The SHA-256 hash for the file is 8e64c38789c1bae752e7b4d0d58078399feb7cd3339712590cf727dfd90d254d.

    According to VirusTotal, at the time the report was released, it was being detected by by the following anti-malware programs:

    • Avira AntiVir - Android/FakeInst.ES.4
    • Baidu-International - Trojan.Android.FakeInst.bES
    • ESET - a variant of Android/Morcut.A
    • Kaspersky - HEUR:Trojan-Spy.AndroidOS.Mekir.a
    • ThreatTrack VIPRE - Trojan.AndroidOS.Generic.A

    Five out of fifty-three program, or a little under 10%. Currently, detection is at 13/53, according to this [virustotal.com] report.

    Regards,

    Aryeh Goretsky

  • by Mister Liberty (769145) on Friday June 27, 2014 @08:35PM (#47337925)

    ... instruct them about democracy, freedom of speech, religion, separation between church and state,
    dissidents and some other inconveniences, and gently urge them onto the path of good behaviour?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our second dearest ally in the Middle East?

    Where Kerry is going to ask for help over Iraq? (Now that's funny)

    Suppressing dissidents?

    No! Say it ain't so!

  • Or having your hands/feet/head cut off. Or being sentenced to 100 lashes. Or being blown up in a terrorist attack.

    As Saudi attacks on infidels go, this seems fairly mild.

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