Citizen Lab has released a report tracking “an extensive malware, phishing, and disinformation campaign active in several Latin American countries” targeting human rights activists, opposition figures and independent journalists. The hacks bear the hallmarks of state sponsorship, according to Citizen Lab. AP reports:
“The group has been attacking opposition figures and independent journalists in Ecuador with spyware. It also ran dummy websites. The most elaborate, geared toward Venezuela, was a constantly updated news site featuring dubiously sourced “scoops” on purported corruption among that country’s ruling socialists. In Ecuador, a similarly bogus site seemed tailored to attract disgruntled police officers.
The researchers launched the three-month probe after determining that spyware found on the smartphone of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was written to send pilfered data to the same command-and-control structure as malware sent to targets infected in Ecuador. They said the hackers had a “keen and systematic interest in the political opposition and the independent press” in the three nations, all of which have been run by allied left-wing governments. That suggests it may have operated on behalf of one or more of those governments, the report said.”