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Saudi Government Targeting Dissidents With Mobile Malware

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the they-don't-go-in-for-a-slap-on-the-wrist dept.

Government 41

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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The Golden Age of Spying (3, Insightful)

mcolgin (818580) | about 2 months ago | (#47337731)

...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?!?!

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47338347)

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:The Golden Age of Spying (0, Troll)

m00sh (2538182) | about a month ago | (#47338489)

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?

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338765)

Devil's advocate:

Can someone show me a single piece of malware, yes, even one, that affects a non-jailbroken iOS device?

Re: The Golden Age of Spying (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47339161)

The early jailbreaking exploits could be leveraged through browser vulnerabilities alone, no? If those very same holes never ever got used for things other than jailbreaking I'd be surprised. Not a example of malware per-se, just food for thought.

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47339427)

iOS

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47338857)

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 of evidence just more confirmation of secret backdoors?

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (2)

m00sh (2538182) | about a month ago | (#47339393)

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] .

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47340461)

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?

Run this through your mind: would this really be continued if suddenly, for every iDevice sold, you (the Company) start getting a deluge of data that you didn't ask for and didn't want? Now you have to spend money on storing and dealing with that data... Imagine the manager/executive in charge of that program having to defend that to his boss/board ("so tell me, why are we spending X millins on dollars again on capturing this data?")... I can't imagine his performance bonus being that great if this were a bug. I think it is fair to operate under the assumption that this wasn't a bug, it was a feature and they got caught red handed. It's as much a bug as Google's snooping on/vacuuming of WiFi signals is a bug.

Here's a good saying for you "it's not because you're paranoid that they're not after you"

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47339543)

Not true, too lazy to google, but I remember reading that if its connected to a pc and the pc is infected it can jailbreak the phone and do whatever as long as the phone is unlocked when connected.

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about a month ago | (#47339579)

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 is the US continuing to allow it to happen do a search of 15 of 19 and well the answer really does beg the question of why was nothing done.

Re:The Golden Age of Spying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338521)

The good news is that since we don't have to carry the darn things, they can be used to spoof our location. "My client was at home that entire night - cellular records confirm that."

Huh? They can't afford drones w/ Hellfires? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337735)

Damn, Obama is more barbaric than Saudi Arabia.

Don't you know... (-1, Troll)

Brad1138 (590148) | about 2 months ago | (#47337751)

Only the U.S. can do that!

Re:Don't you know... (1, Troll)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47337859)

Only the U.S. can do that!

Nonsense. It is perfectly fine for the Saudis to violate human rights because they are an American ally.

saudis control the price of oil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338747)

The Saudis are the world's swing producer of oil. Saudi Arabia has a large control the price of oil. So, America doing Saudi Arabia's bidding, might be a logical thing. Given that China is now a large consumer of oil, the jump in the price of oil, and electric car technology is now good enough, America might want to rethink it's relationship.

Naive leftists demand clarification from theocrats (-1, Flamebait)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 months ago | (#47337771)

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Well, the leftists might actually be cunning donation seekers, knowing that a demand will outrage left-leaning sheep with more money than brains into opening their 1% coffers to HRW...

Re:Naive leftists demand clarification from theocr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337823)

Jesus christ, I'm a lefty... the amount of wishy washy thinking I see, I'm tempted tp get a T shirt with 'idiot lefty' and parade around - I could hardly do worse than the others that represent us.

Re:Naive leftists demand clarification from theocr (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338079)

Keep sucking that Republican dick, faggot. Obama won. Get over it. We don't need bitches like you no more.

Re:Naive leftists demand clarification from theocr (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a month ago | (#47338617)

Right-wingers do stuff just as stupid...

Re:Naive leftists demand clarification from theocr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338101)

Aren't you laid to an unsubsidized education?

Re:Naive leftists demand clarification from theocr (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a month ago | (#47338593)

Laid to?

Allah says your Flash Player is out of date! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337797)

All glory to update Java click here....

detection (3, Informative)

Aryeh Goretsky (129230) | about 2 months ago | (#47337845)

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

Re:detection (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 2 months ago | (#47338083)

That's good information.

Now, who has the binaries? Let's get a look.

Re:detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338675)

Yes, but can John detect the binary by taste?

Re:detection (1)

NotInHere (3654617) | about a month ago | (#47340173)

This link [citizenlab.org] has even more information.

Maybe their best friend should talk to them (3, Insightful)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 months ago | (#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?

Re:Maybe their best friend should talk to them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338899)

Or just create a new social media platform intended to protect users from the Saudi government. It could be called .. OsamaNet.

Re:Maybe their best friend should talk to them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47339271)

As if their "friend" the US? had all those bugs worked out? Lol.

Saudi Arabia? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337981)

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!

Re:Saudi Arabia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47338049)

John Kerry is useless and should be thrown out of this county on his lying ass.

Re:Saudi Arabia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338759)

You probably know that Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the US. SA is the boss. It has western politicians bribed well enough to get nearly anything it wants. As compared to what the Saudis have available from their oil income, the amount of money needed is very small.

Israel and SA cooperate to a limited extent, but they are not allies either. Saudi Arabia has long-term plans to destroy Israel, kill all of the Jews, and enslave just about everybody else. But for now, it needs Israeli and US cooperation in its quest to take over all of the Islamic world. And it has been receiving it.

The Saudis are very good at *looking* friendly and mostly harmless. They don't do their own dirty work. They use their terror networks to put pressure on other countries. The Saudis threatened to have one of their cadres disrupt the Sochi olympics if Russia did not follow orders.

The Saudis' long-term plans for conquest are available. Look them up.

Muslims are the 21st century Nazis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47337995)

March to their beat or die in the name of flying spaghetti monster Allah and the child molester Mohammad.
 
Islam is evil.

Re:Muslims are the 21st century Nazis (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338127)

Before wailing on Mohammad, consider the man and what he did.

It appears the same thing is happening in Islam is what seems to happen in all religion... leadership types see it as a control vector for the populacel and warp it to their own advantage.

Some of those people are exceedingly evil.

Think Christianity is immune?

Turn on the TV, and most of the preacher types there are nothing more than beggars, imploring us to "sow the uncommon seed" to finance bringing the message around the world that they, too, owe some beggar the money they earned to support their family - while our Holy Book tells us quite plainly that when we are sharing His word, we are NOT to carry a begging bag!.

I am under the strong belief that often what is said "in the name of God" has little to do with what God said, said evidence to support that conclusion provided by those who pontificate using the name of God.

Re:Muslims are the 21st century Nazis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338515)

what seems to happen in all religion... leadership types see it as a control vector for the populacel and warp it to their own advantage.

Don't sound so surprised, this is the point of all religions.

Re:Muslims are the 21st century Nazis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338315)

I thought the NSA were the 21st century Nazis? It's so hard to keep up.

Governments... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338297)

Wow, these mid-east extremists are almost as bad as Americans.

So they consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47338343)

...the ones who get infected with mobile malware to be the most dangerous, eh?

Headline fail.

even more pretense of absolution/immunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47340075)

more media S&M http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCWVuCCWqzQ free the innocent stem cells... see you there

Better than being stoned to death (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a month ago | (#47340289)

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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