The hackers tried to access the iPhones and Android devices of people working for the Tibetan parliament, the Central Tibetan Administration and the Dalai Lama by sending them phishing links on WhatsApp, according to a new report from Toronto-based digital rights group Citizen Lab. None of the 15 hacking attempts were successful, prevented by the targets’ up-to-date phone software. (The Logic)
Talking point: The Citizen Lab report falls just short of blaming the Chinese government for the Tibetan attacks. It provides significant technical evidence to show that the same group was behind a hack of Uyghurs’ iPhones, revealed in August, that China has been accused of orchestrating. However, these hackers do not appear to be linked to the Israel-based NSO Group, which has spent years as the go-to contractor for governments looking to get access to dissidents’ phones. NSO Group has mostly worked with U.S.-allied governments like Saudi Arabia and Mexico to monitor political opponents and journalists, but the emergence of a new China-backed group could see an increase in this kind of monitoring.