A newly identified digital espionage initiative has stolen hundreds of gigabytes of data and surveilled thousands of people in 21 countries, including the United States, Canada, France, and Germany. The spy campaign works by tricking users into installing malicious apps that appear to be trusted messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal. The phony apps seem to work normally, but are actually laced with trojans that scoop up messages, call logs, photos, location data, and anything else users send and receive.
The campaign, discovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the mobile security firm Lookout, is known as Dark Caracal and seems to be the work of nation state-funded hackers. The researchers traced the sinister project to a building owned by the Lebanese General Security Directorate in Beirut. The spying has targeted well-connected or controversial figures like activists, military personnel, journalists, and lawyers.