(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) A recent announcement from the Biden administration revealed that foreign actors are using commercial spyware to target several federal employees, many in high-ranking positions.
The hacking attacks targeted nearly 50 feds, and took place in 10 foreign countries all over the globe. Many of the attacks occurred on government-supplied cell phones.
According to the Daily Wire, the number of attacks is expected to rise as measures are put in place to prevent further interference.
In response, President Joe Biden revealed a new executive order aiming to restrict the “operational use” of commercial spyware within the White House. Biden cited national security concerns as the reasoning behind this change, as well as the enabling of human rights abuses.
Governments constantly purchase commercial spyware, which works to gain access and collect government data. The Drug Enforcement Administration purchased spyware programming from an Israeli firm known as Paragon.
Another Israeli company, known as the NSO Group, caught up a scandal after developing a mobile phone hacking tool—called Pegasus—after allegations that malicious actors watched the movements of journalists, activists and politicians via the technology.
Several American ambassadors to Uganda had their phones hacked by Pegasus spyware.
The NSO Group cut ties with several suspect customers as a response to the incident.
The company released a statement, claiming that Pegasus technology “is only licensed, as a lawful solution, to government intelligence and law-enforcement agencies for the sole purpose of preventing and investigating terror and serious crime.”
According to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the bureau purchased an evaluation license for Pegasus spyware, but “has not and did not use the NSO products operationally in any investigation.”
Biden’s executive order also clarified that the issue of spyware is on the agenda for the up-and-coming “Summit for Democracy,” which the president will co-host with several other countries that he sees as being aligned with his “liberal world order,” while excluding pro-liberty countries like Hungary.
The White House insisted that the order will “deepen international cooperation” and “promote responsible use of surveillance technology.”