US Citizen Hacked by Spyware

The New York Times is reporting that a US citizen’s phone was hacked by Predator spyware.

A U.S. and Greek national who worked on Meta’s security and trust team while based in Greece was placed under a yearlong wiretap by the Greek national intelligence service and hacked with a powerful cyberespionage tool, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and officials with knowledge of the case.

The disclosure is the first known case of an American citizen being targeted in a European Union country by the advanced snooping technology, the use of which has been the subject of a widening scandal in Greece. It demonstrates that the illicit use of spyware is spreading beyond use by authoritarian governments against opposition figures and journalists, and has begun to creep into European democracies, even ensnaring a foreign national working for a major global corporation.

The simultaneous tapping of the target’s phone by the national intelligence service and the way she was hacked indicate that the spy service and whoever implanted the spyware, known as Predator, were working hand in hand.

Posted on March 21, 2023 at 8:34 AM17 Comments


Winter March 21, 2023 9:11 AM

It is always funny that a crime is only Newsworthy in some circles when the victim is an American.

That said, I think we should use these examples in a response to any proposed weakening of the use of encryption.

We can tell “law enforcement” that:
If you are not willing to keep us safe against unlawful surveillance and digital crimes, preventing us from protecting ourselves makes you complicit in the crime

kiwano March 21, 2023 9:45 AM

Am I the only person who thinks it’s poetic justice that the victim is a Meta employee. (To be fair, not as good an example of poetic justice as if the victim were a director or officer of Meta, but still…)

Joe March 21, 2023 11:04 AM

@Winter i think the reason it’s notable is that the companies that develop these tools often specifically require customers to not spy on US citizens, to avoid angering uncle sam

1+1~=Umm March 21, 2023 11:32 AM

“The disclosure is the first known case of an American citizen being targeted in a European Union country by the advanced snooping technology, the use of which has been the subject of a widening scandal in Greece.”

But not the first case by a long way of the US using advanced snooping technology on Greek citizens in Greece. Going back nearly two decades to the Athens Olympics where well over a hundred and nearly two hundred Greek piliticians their aids and others had their mobile phone communications intercepted.

What brought it to light was the supposed suicide by the Vodafone mobile phone company emoloyee…

But after a series of tradecraft blunders were uncovered a CIA/NSA operative, William George Basil, based from out of the US Embasy had an international arrest warrent via Interpol issued.

So I’m not surprised “US Others” have had their phone calls / messages intercepted.

Look on it as being “What goes around comes around”.

Cody Ryan Tippie March 21, 2023 12:42 PM

One could almost falsely premise that such is laughable; should such article actually exist what such highlights on is the poignanted and much collaborated existent relationship that exists between domestic intelligence, policing, and intelligence services at media utilisation around internalising and controlling externalised national dialogue around that of exit nodes; that of which often is rife for manipulation around that of maintaining cocentric power structures. Just sat through a human rights watch dialogue where all discussion was on the Ukraine border; but little audience concern was given to issues positional of reform in the United States of America; much of which would escape public concern or day-to-day care for average nationaled persons. Persons would have been more concerned with lynching Presidential figures rather than much deserved developmental issues.
Soilyent Green. Such bears premise to restrictions on freedom of movement towards entrapment based around knowledge or intellectual capital; as obviously intelligence agencies only monitor a few select individuals, including rogue access; and the CIA would never benefit from the overted or corruptive incarceration of persons in already defunct systems.

lurker March 21, 2023 1:59 PM

A dual US-Greek citizen is lucky to be spied on by both governments, and as trust and security manager for a social media network gets the privilege of clicking on links in a TXT. She probably uses the same phone for work and home.

Matthai March 21, 2023 7:35 PM

From 2015: The US National Security Agency tapped phone calls involving German chancellor Angela Merkel and her closest advisers for years and spied on the staff of her predecessors, according to WikiLeaks.

Rachel March 21, 2023 9:31 PM

We are told of the incident. But far more importantly is Why?

The services must have had a good reason for their conduct.
Numbering amongst the sayings of my great, salty, Great Aunty, was her regular refrain; ‘them wiretaps don’t plant themselves’.
(It loses something in the translation though.)

Thats a long time to be surveilling someone.
Was the employee engaged in illegal activity on behalf of Meta, against the men and women of Greece?

Gunter Königsmann March 22, 2023 1:30 AM

AKAIK in all countries the intelligence agencies are allowed to spy on citizens from every country except their own. The only time that has mease news in germany, where I live, was when some US agency wore-tapped the phone of our chancellor; I personally don’t know if using malware to do so is so much worse than making sure that security holes aren’t fixed or that standards somehow fail to hinder one from wire-tapping.

ResearcherZero March 22, 2023 2:40 AM

In her role at Meta, Ms. Seaford worked on policy questions relating to cybersecurity and she also maintained working relations with Greek as well as other European officials.

ResearcherZero March 22, 2023 3:01 AM

You have a new friend request on Facebook, would you like to accept?

“We traced the brochure to a shadowy cybersecurity company called S2T Unlocking Cyberspace, with current or former offices in Singapore, Sri Lanka, the UK and Israel by matching graphics and tech descriptors on their website with those in the brochure.”

“The 93-page S2T brochure reads like a spy novel, or an episode of Black Mirror, with detailed graphics illustrating how the tool operates.”

Petre Peter March 22, 2023 8:32 AM

I am wondering who should’ve protected her? Meta, the US government, or the Greek government

Peter A. March 22, 2023 10:59 AM

Not to mention Polish three-letter-agency(ies) – nobody knows which one(s) specifically – politically controlled by the currently-ruling party (or, effectively, its leader) via their Minister of Justice and Attorney General in one person, using Israeli-made Pegasus spyware to snoop on and/or harass opposition figures including a senator and past election campaign manager (during the campaign), prominent defense attorney (ex-minister of their own past government) and his family, public (prosecution) attorney and even – according to relatively fresh news – Mr. President who originates from their own political camp.

vas pup March 23, 2023 3:34 PM

@Bruce said “The disclosure is the first known case of an American citizen being targeted in a European Union country by the advanced snooping technology.”

I agree with @Matthai. US created precedent spying on allies top officials. As usually, it should come back sooner or later as boomerang always did.

RealFakeNews March 23, 2023 7:52 PM

Forget that a “US Citizen” was spied on for a moment (while physically outside the US).

What is she up to that made her a target? Doesn’t seem a very random target, considering Fakebook was involved with mass censorship of discussions regarding “that” virus.

Fakebook/Meta should be considered a major security threat to all people/countries/Governments worldwide.

Greece is also a zombie state within Europe, having had its Government forcibly removed by the EUSSR back in 2010 or so after it refused to destroy its own economy to “save” the Euro.

The EUSSR is itself a trojan. Clearly someone is wondering what Meta are up to regarding manipulation of the people. Why?

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.