Spyware targeting Indonesian officials: Sources
Reports say that targets included the chief economist minister, two senior military personnel, as well as two regional diplomats.
According to nine sources, more than a dozen high-ranking Indonesian officials and military officers were targeted by spy software developed by an Israeli surveillance company last year.
According to the people, the targets included Airlangga Hartarto as Chief Economic Minister, military officers, senior military personnel, and two regional diplomats. They also had advisers in Indonesia’s foreign and defense ministries.
Six of six Indonesian officials and advisors were targeted. that they received an Apple Inc email in November 2021 informing them that Apple thought officials were being “targeted by state-sponsored attackers”.
Apple has not released the identities or numbers of those targeted. The company denied this story.
Apple and security researchers claim that the warnings were sent to recipients using forced entry. forced entry is an advanced piece of software used by NSO Group, an Israeli cyber surveillance vendor, to control iPhones and assist foreign spy agencies remotely. Quadrem has created a similar hacking tool to Apple’s
which created or used spyware to target Indonesian officials. It was also not possible to know if the attempts were unsuccessful and what the hackers might have gained.
Cybersecurity experts say the attack on Indonesian officials was not reported before. This is one of the most serious cases of software being used to harm the government, military, and defense ministry personnel.
Spokespeople representing the Indonesian government and military, as well as the Indonesian Defence Ministry and Indonesian Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN), did not respond when asked for comments or emailed questions.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry claimed they weren’t aware of the matter and referred
Airlangga Hararto, a pivotal ally to President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, didn’t respond to questions from
Citizen Lab, the cybersecurity watchdog, released the ForcedEntry exploiting a flaw of iPhones using a new hacking technique that doesn’t require any user interactions in September 2021. It was described by security experts at Google as the “most technically complex” hacking attack, according to a blog post that was published by the company in December.
Apple patched the vulnerability last September and started sending out notification messages to those users it considered “sensitive” in November.
said that software by the company was not involved in targeting officials in Indonesia. He dismissed the claim as “contractually, technologically impossible,” but did not specify why. The company doesn’t reveal its customers’ identities but says that its products are sold only to “vetted, legitimate” government agencies.
Two people familiar with the matter say that Apple also sent the same message to a director of a state-owned Indonesian company that provides weapons for the Indonesian army. Because of the sensitive nature and importance of the matter, these people did not wish to be identified. The company director didn’t respond to our requests for comment.
Apple notifying the US government in November 2013 that NSO was on its ‘entity’ list made it difficult for US companies to do business with them. The US government had already determined that NSO’s phone hacking technology had been used to “maliciously” target dissidents by foreign governments.
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