The international organization, Citizen Lab, revealed the details of the UAE’s acquisition of a special Israeli hacking tool for espionage and its use against Yemeni officials and activists opposed to it.
The international organization, which is based at the University of Toronto, said in a report that an Israeli group sold a tool to hack Windows to several countries, led by the UAE, to spy on opponents.
Documents stated that the UAE paid about five million dollars to the Israeli Kandero Group in exchange for the spyware program that can infiltrate the Windows system.
The UAE targeted ministers and senior officials
According to the documents, the Emirati hacking and espionage operations targeted ministers and senior officials in Yemen, including Socotra Governor Ramzi Mahrous, who is known for his opposition to the UAE presence in the country.
The Emirati authorities have also targeted, using Israeli techniques, journalists and activists who oppose their aggressive role in the country and their support for armed militias.
The report stated that the personalities who were targeted in the UAE, some of them reside in Yemen and others in Europe and Turkey, but they are united by the opposition of Abu Dhabi and the continuous condemnation of its plots.
The spy product, which the UAE contracted with the Israeli developer, is among the many intelligence products sold through a secret sector that finds vulnerabilities in software platforms commonly used by its clients.
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Security researchers conducted a technical analysis and concluded in detail how the tool sold by Kanderu was able to hack into the account of officials and activists in Yemen.
Citizen Lab researchers found evidence that this spyware was able to extract information from several applications used by victims, including Gmail, Skype, Telegram and Facebook.
The program was also able to refer to the history of Internet searches as well as the passwords of the victims and activate the camera and microphone on their devices.
“Kanderu’s growing presence and use of its surveillance technologies against global civil society is a clear reminder that the mercenary spyware sector includes many players and is open to widespread abuse,” the organization emphasized.
She pointed out that the program, which she called “Devil’s Tongue” (Devil’s Tang), managed to infiltrate famous sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Yahoo to collect information, read messages from victims and view photos.
Recently, reliable sources revealed that the UAE has signed huge contracts with Israeli companies specialized in espionage and piracy services.
The sources told the opposition Emirates Leaks website that the contracts were signed during a remarkable presence of Israeli companies and the Mossad at a cyber security conference in Dubai last April.
According to the sources, the talk is about agreements worth billions of dollars that would enhance the capabilities of the UAE regime for espionage and piracy.
She added that the signed agreements will enhance Israel’s security presence in the UAE in terms of internal monitoring and control of the visa system for arrivals to the country.
In addition to significant Israeli control over spy networks inside the Emirates, especially the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The UAE regime sponsored the eighth edition of the Cybertech Global Cybersecurity Exhibition and Conference, the largest forum for the global cybersecurity sector, over two days in Dubai.
It was remarkable, during the opening of the conference and exhibition, that Israeli companies specialized in cybersecurity and piracy attended, for the first time, as well as high-ranking military leaders in the Israeli security services.
The conference was also attended by eminent personalities from different backgrounds and countries, including Yigal Una, director of the Israeli National Internet Authority, General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe, and General David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Rashid said, “The UAE has achieved an advanced position in the field of security and security regionally and globally with the certificate of international reports, including information security and cyberspace.”
Read also: He received $ 400,000 from Abu Dhabi .. Accused of spying for the UAE in Turkey reveals new details
He added that these conferences come with the aim of “consolidating international cooperation in the field of cybersecurity, confronting threats and risks in the field of cyberspace, and establishing global partnerships with major specialized international institutions.”
The ruling regime in the Emirates has openly allyed with Israel in the field of “cyber” security to enhance the country’s espionage and hacking capabilities.
Intense Emirati-Israeli cooperation
The Hebrew website I24News highlighted that the UAE and Israel are intensifying their cooperation in the electronic sector and the field of cyber security, which has increased with the Corona crisis.
The website stated that “since the signing of peace treaties between them, Israel and the UAE have intensified their cooperation in a number of fields, the most important of which are the electronic field and cyber security.”
This is taking place, according to the site, “in light of the recent transfer of the (Cyber Tech) International Exhibition from Tel Aviv to Dubai,” and this was confirmed to the site by the head of cyber security in the UAE government, Muhammad Al-Kuwaiti.
Al-Kuwaiti told the Hebrew website that “there is cooperation between the two countries in the field of digital transformation. The UAE is heading for a complete transformation in all sectors, hence the importance of cyber security, and hence the great cooperation with Israeli companies.”
The Emirati official admitted that Israel “facilitated us to build resilience and cyber security in all sectors,” including espionage and hacking capabilities.
He stressed the “importance of continuity in cooperation with Israel to strengthen and support electronic systems, unite forces, and work for greater support to repel cyber attacks.”
In turn, the head of the Israeli National Cyber Authority, Yigal Ona, acknowledged that cooperation between Israel and the UAE in the cyber field was prior to the agreements declaring normalization.
But he considered that “the Cyber Tech exhibition is a symbolic and important starting point in the development of strong, rapid and good relations between Israel and the UAE.”
Al-Kuwaiti previously stated that with the signing of the normalization agreement, many transactions with Israeli Internet companies began, including in the areas of cybersecurity, digital technology and education.
The Emirati official also alluded to his country’s use of the “Pegasus” spy program, which was developed by the Israeli company “NSO”, in “fighting terrorism.”
And recently, prominent Emirati dissident Youssef Khalifa Al Yousef revealed that the ruling regime in the UAE paid $50 million to participate in an Israeli spy program.
Al-Yousef said on his Twitter account that the Emirati regime used the techniques of the Israeli spy program against the State of Qatar in the first place.
Al-Youssef commented on this, “This fool (meaning the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed) is fighting battles that are not elegance for the Prime Time Zone of the Emirates, and there are no camels in them, but it is a crazy orgy who creates sedition and wastes wealth.”
Al-Kuwaiti previously stated that the UAE is exchanging information with Israel in the field of countering cyber attacks, in addition to their cooperation in the field of cyber technologies, stressing that this cooperation helps both sides to deter parties planning to launch cyber attacks.
Yossi Melman, an Israeli journalist specializing in intelligence affairs, stated that Al-Kuwaiti’s statements came within the framework of an electronic forum organized on Thursday, in which the commander of the Israeli cyber sector, Yigal Ono, participated, about opportunities and challenges in the field of cyber defense.
In a tweet on his Twitter account, Melman noted that leaders of cyber agencies in other countries participated in the discussion, including the head of the cyber agency in Singapore.
The UAE used Israeli espionage technology to track down and arrest the famous Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansour in 2016.
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