‘Israeli WhatsApp-hacking spy van’ scandal triggers privacy breach probe in Cyprus


‘Israeli WhatsApp-hacking spy van’ scandal triggers privacy breach probe in Cyprus

Cyprus police are deepening their probe into a high-tech ‘spy van’ spotted on the island, owned by an Israeli surveillance firm and capable of hacking into any smartphone from a kilometer away. Its exact purpose remains unknown.

The mysterious vehicle first piqued curiosities after it featured in a Forbes report showing off its sophisticated surveillance set up, raising questions about how the gear was being used.

Owned by WiSpear, an Israeli spy firm registered in Cyprus, the high-tech van contains some $9 million in snooping gear which can breach virtually any smartphone application – including WhatsApp and Facebook messages, texts, calls and contacts – according to WiSpear founder Tal Dillian.

A 24-year veteran of Israel’s military intelligence service, Dillian bragged about his company making “a lot of money” from the widening gap between spying tech and encryption, adding that he only expected more cash to roll in as governments struggled to find “back doors” to digital messaging apps.

ALSO ON RT.COMProtecting monopoly on spying? Facebook sues Israeli cyber firm for exploiting WhatsApp vulnerabilityA probe launched earlier this month into whether the van violated any privacy laws was widened on Thursday, when Attorney General Costas Clerides announced he would appoint an independent investigator to the case, which continues to perplex authorities.

After a search of WiSpear’s headquarters in the city of Larnaca earlier in November, the van was seized and remains in police custody, though it is still unclear whether any additional evidence was turned up.

President Nicos Anastasiades said he would “never tolerate” breaches of any citizen’s privacy after a meeting last week on the matter with the country’s justice minister, chief of police and the head of the hard-left AKEL party, which first raised concerns about the vehicle.

ALSO ON RT.COMPegasus returns? WhatsApp users on alert after Facebook warned of ANOTHER vulnerability exploited by hackersWiSpear has denied all wrongdoing and insists the van was not used for spying purposes, nor rented out to any third party, arguing the firm is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

“We would like to restate that the car has not been active within Cypriot territory other than for demo and field tests purposes only, solely on company-owned devices,” the company said in a statement last week.


Source >> https://www.rt.com/news/474601-israeli-spy-van-cyprus/?fbclid=IwAR3Pm2W3G-1XPLhjJMFiE2_1Dq6VPXow7ig_4IhFvMXUVbbBeC8-xVr8ld8