Israeli-Made Spyware Used by Ethiopian Government To Track Dissidents

By NoCamels Team December 07, 2017 Comments

cyberbit logoDecember 7, 2017 | The Ethiopian government used Israeli-developed spyware to track and spy on Ethiopian dissidents living abroad during an espionage campaign that began in 2016, according to a new report by The Citizen Lab, a research facility at The University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. The spyware, a commercial product known as PC Surveillance System (PSS) and posing as Adobe updates and plugins, was developed by Israel-based Cyberbit, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, Israel’s international defense company. According to Citizen Lab, the campaign was aimed at supporters of the Oromo ethnic group, who make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnically based regional states, Oromia. Targets included the executive director of the US-based Ethiopian diaspora media outfit, the Oromia Media Network (OMN), who is a prominent Oromo activist, a PhD student in London who was a frequent guest on OMN, and a lawyer teaching at a US university who is also the founder of the Association of Oromo Public Defenders in Oromia. One of the writers of the Citizen Lab report was also a target on the malware during the course of the investigation, the research lab said. Cyberbit told Calcalist when asked for comment that the company’s “products aid the national security of countries in which they are sold, and state agencies in such countries are required to operate these products within the law.” It added that the company “does not operate its products, and like other Israeli and non-Israeli defense companies, it is not fully aware of the way its products are being used in covert by nature activities by intelligence and defense agencies.” Cyberbit said that the “intelligence and defense organizations buying the products are required to use them by law.”

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