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iPhone belonging to Spanish prime minister was hit with Pegasus spyware

Malware illustration

Spanish authorities say that the iPhones of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Defense Minister Margarita Robles were compromised by NSO Group's Pegasus spyware.

Sanchez's mobile device was infected in May 2021 and at least one data occurred around that time, according to government officials. Authorities say they don't know who was behind the attack, or whether it was international or domestic espionage, Reuters has reported.

The attacks were "illicit and external," meaning they occurred without authorization and by non-official bodies. Authorities said the interventions have been reported to the country's justice ministry.

News of the attack comes shortly after a report that at least 60 people linked to the Catalan separatist movement also had their mobile devices infected with the "Pegasus" spyware.

"Pegasus" is a spyware tool developed by Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group. The spyware, which could allow attackers full access to an iPhone, has been used by governments and other actors to surveil activists, journalists, and opposition politicians.

Apple has taken steps to close off vulnerabilities used by versions of "Pegasus." The Cupertino tech giant has also sued NSO Group for developing the spyware.

NSO Group has come under pressure in recent years, and is reportedly considering killing off the Pegasus spyware.