US sanctions former Israeli army intelligence officer for spying on govt officials

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A former Israeli army intel officer was sanctioned by the US on Tuesday for being the “architect” behind spyware tools that were used to target Americans, including US government officials, journalists and policy experts.

“Today’s actions represent a tangible step forward in discouraging the misuse of commercial surveillance tools, which increasingly present a security risk to the United States and our citizens,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson. “The United States remains focused on establishing clear guardrails for the responsible development and use of these technologies while also ensuring the protection of human rights and civil liberties of individuals around the world.”

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Tal Jonathan Dilian, the founder of the Intellexa Consortium, was slapped with sanctions. Founded in 2019, the company has acted as a marketing label for a variety of offensive cyber companies that offer commercial spyware and surveillance tools to enable targeted and mass surveillance campaigns, the Treasury Department said.

The spyware can infiltrate electronic devices through zero-click attacks that require no user interaction for the spyware to infect the device, the Treasury Department said.

Among the information that can be stolen or manipulated are the unauthorized extraction of data, geolocation tracking, and access to a variety of applications and personal information on the hacked device.

"Furthermore, the Predator spyware has been deployed by foreign actors in an effort to covertly surveil US government officials, journalists, and policy experts. In the event of a successful Predator infection, the spyware’s operators can access and retrieve sensitive information including contacts, call logs, and messaging information, microphone recordings, and media from the device," Treasury revealed.

Read more: Researchers find Israeli-made Pegasus phone hacking software deployed across Armenia

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