Mexican Government Accused of Using SMS Tracking
Mexican Government May Have Used SMS Tracking
It’s been reported that the Mexican government has targeted a number of journalists with software that could use a variety of monitoring strategies, such as SMS tracking.
The rumors suggest that Mexico sent out links via SMS messages which would install a tracking software onto the recipient’s device if opened. The links appeared legitimate and from a trustworthy source, but the link would secretly install software in the background.
The malware that installed on targeted journalists devices could perform a number of monitoring tasks. Firstly, the malware was used to record the keystrokes sent through the smartphone’s touch keyboard. The same malware could also extract information from the smartphone’s contacts list. SMS tracking was also used to monitor all messages sent and received.
The company responsible for the creation of the malware was Israel-based NSO Group – a security company renowned for selling compromising software to governments. NSO Group is known to charge $650,000 for the software and a $500,000 installation fee for the installation on just 10 iPhones. According to the same source above, three different Mexican federal agencies have already spent over $80 million on a contract with the NSO group.
In response to the New York Times report, the Mexican government responded by saying that it “Categorically denies that any of its members engages in surveillance or communications operations against defenders of human rights, journalists, anti-corruption activists or any other person with prior judicial authorization.”
Mexico has had long-standing issues with the freedom of the press, and it looks very clear that this recent strategy was another attempt by the Mexican government to stop the distribution of stories that may paint a bad light on certain government officials.
Unfortunately, for the Mexico government, it seems as if their plans have since backfired. A number of affected journalists have banded together to create a press statement.
In the statement, some of the issues about the corruption in Mexico’s government were brought to light. The statement also put a focus on the tactics the government has been used to stop journalists and activists in their tracks.
The statement read, “Espionage in Mexico has become an effective mechanism for intimidating human rights defenders, activists and journalists. It makes it possible to control the flow of information as well as (allowing) abuses of power.”
Journalist Carmen Aristegui was one such target. The Mexican government targeted her via email. A fake email disguising itself as a communication from the US embassy in Mexico was sent her way. Aristegui’s 16 year old son was even targeted in the attack.
With entire organizations like the Israeli NSO Group being created to sell such tools to governments across the world, it’s understandable why so many activists are fighting hard for their rights to online privacy.
The scary thing is that whilst the Mexican government may have been caught in their recent attempts, there’s no doubt that many other attempts from Mexico and many other countries may have gone unnoticed in the past.
What are your thoughts on this breaking news over in Mexico?