Iranian Hackers Can Now Beat Encrypted Apps, Researchers Say

Iranian hackers, most likely employees or affiliates of the government, have been running a vast cyberespionage operation equipped with surveillance tools that can outsmart encrypted messaging systems — a capability Iran was not previously known to possess, according to two digital security reports released Friday.The operation not only targets domestic dissidents, religious and ethnic minorities and antigovernment activists abroad, but can also be used to spy on the general public inside Iran, said the reports by Check Point Software Technologies, a cybersecurity technology firm, and the Miaan Group, a human rights organization that focuses on digital security in the Middle East.
The reports, which were reviewed by The New York Times in advance of their release, say that the hackers have successfully infiltrated what were thought to be secure mobile phones and computers belonging to the targets, overcoming obstacles created by encrypted applications such as Telegram and, according to Miaan, even gaining access to information on WhatsApp. Both are popular messaging tools in Iran. The hackers also have created malware disguised as Android applications, the reports said.
A spokesman for Telegram said that the company was unaware of the Iranian hacker operation, but that “no service can prevent being imitated in ‘phishing’ attacks when someone convinces users to enter their credentials on a malicious website.” WhatsApp declined to comment.

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