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Poland launches investigation in Pegasus spyware use by government

 A concept image of someone typing on a computer. A red flashing danger sign is above the keyboard and nymbers and symbols also in glowing red surround it.
A concept image of someone typing on a computer. A red flashing danger sign is above the keyboard and nymbers and symbols also in glowing red surround it.

Following allegations made by Poland’s current Prime Minister in February 2024, the Polish government has formally launched an investigation into the use of Pegasus spyware by the previous administration.

Former officials who were involved in the use of the spyware will likely face criminal charges, with the victims potentially able to claim financial compensation and be involved in the criminal proceedings.

Pegasus is a phone-based spyware that covertly hijacks the device providing full access to apps and files, while also turning the device into a 24/7 tracking and listening device.

Thousands targeted by Pegasus

A 2021 data leak, accessed by the Guardian, showed that thousands of telephone numbers spread across several countries were accessed by the Pegasus spyware, with a number of media outlets being targeted by governments in Eastern Europe, most notably by Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

The Pegasus software was developed in 2011 by the Israeli NSO group for both iPhone and Android devices, and can be used to remotely surveil individuals associated with terrorist groups, although it has been used more often to spy on opposition figures and media.

Other notable figures understood to have been targeted using the spyware include Poland’s current prime minister, Donald Tusk, and MEP Krzysztof Brejza, alongside a longer list of high-profile politicians which remains confidential while criminal proceedings take place.

Adam Bodnar, Poland’s justice minister, said, “This list is significantly more extensive than the list that has been made public already, a lot of other interesting public people.”

The Pegasus spyware was allegedly widely used by Poland’s Law and Justice administration which was in power between 2015 and 2023, with the use of the spyware subsiding in 2021 following widespread media coverage following the data leak.

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