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Polish senators question cyber experts in NSO hacking inquiry

A Polish Senate commission opens an investigation into the use of powerful spyware against government critics, by hearing testimony from cybersecurity experts, who compare targeting of opposition figures under the right-wing government to methods used by the Kremlin against critics in Russia.

John Scott-Railton and Bill Marczak, senior researchers with the Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, tell the seven-member committee that they were able to confirm that data was stolen from the phone of a Polish senator, Krzysztof Brejza. That came on top of their findings in late December that Brejza and two others — a Polish lawyer and a prosecutor — were hacked aggressively with Pegasus, spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group.

A Polish Senate commission hears the testimony of two cybersecurity experts, John Scott-Railton and Bill Marczak, senior researchers with the Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, in Warsaw, Poland, on January 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The revelations have shocked many Poles because Pegasus is a tool meant to be used by governments to fight terrorists and other dangerous criminals. It gives its operators complete access to a mobile device, allowing them to extract passwords, photos, messages, contacts and browsing history and activate the microphone and camera for real-time eavesdropping.

Many view it as a human rights violation to use it against domestic opponents who criticize the government, but pose no danger to society.

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