EDITED TO ADD (9/1): There is criticism in the comments about me calling NSO Group an Israeli company. I was just repeating the news articles, but further research indicates that it is Israeli-founded and Israeli-based, but 100% owned by an American private equity firm.
Entries Tagged "UAE"
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Last week, Apple issued a critical security patch for the iPhone: iOS 9.3.5. The incredible story is that this patch is the result of investigative work by Citizen Lab, which uncovered a zero-day exploit being used by the UAE government against a human rights defender. The UAE spyware was provided by the Israeli cyberweapons arms manufacturer NSO Group.
This is a big deal. iOS vulnerabilities are expensive, and can sell for over $1M. That we can find one used in the wild and patch it, rendering it valueless, is a major win and puts a huge dent in the vulnerabilities market. The more we can do this, the less valuable these zero-days will be to both criminals and governments—and to criminal governments.
The first two affected India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The third one is between the UAE and Oman. The fourth one connected Qatar and the UAE. This one may not have been cut, but taken offline due to power issues.
The first three have been blamed on ships’ anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that’s two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf.
There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it’s an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): The International Herald Tribune has more. And a comment below questions whether Iran being offline has anything to do with this.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): A fifth cut? What the hell is going on out there?
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): More commentary from Steve Bellovin.
EDITED TO ADD (2/5): Just to be clear: Iran is not offline. That was an untrue rumor; it was never true.
Universal automobile surveillance comes to the United Arab Emirates:
IBM will begin installing a “Smart Box” system in vehicles in the United Arab Emirates next year, potentially generating millions in traffic fines for the Gulf state. The UAE signed a $125 million contract with IBM today to provide the high-tech traffic monitoring and speed-enforcing system in which a GPS-enabled “Smart Box” would be installed in cars to provide a voice warning if the driver exceeds the local speed limit for wherever he may be driving. If the voice warning is ignored, the system would use a GSM/GPRS link to beam the car’s speed, identity and location to the police so that a ticket could be issued. The system would also track and monitor any other driving violations, including “reckless behavior.”
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.