The creator of Telegram is named in the data from the Pegasus project that was released | United Arab Emirates

The creator of Telegram is named in the data from the Pegasus project that was released | United Arab Emirates

Shaun Walker
Wed 21 Jul 2021 13.31 BST

Pavel Durov, who built reputation on creating unhackable app, selected by NSO client government

Amid the varied cast of people whose numbers appear on a list of individuals selected by NSO Group’s client governments, one name stands out as particularly ironic. Pavel Durov, the enigmatic Russian-born tech billionaire who has built his reputation on creating an unhackable messaging app, finds his own number on the list.

Durov, 36, is the founder of Telegram, which claims to have more than half a billion users. Telegram offers end-to-end encrypted messaging and users can also set up “channels” to disseminate information quickly to followers. It has found popularity among those keen to evade the snooping eyes of governments, whether they be criminals, terrorists or protesters battling authoritarian regimes.

In recent years, Durov has publicly rubbished the security standards of competitors, particularly WhatsApp, which he has claimed is “dangerous” to use. By contrast, he has positioned Telegram as a plucky upstart determined to safeguard the privacy of its users at all costs.

Quick Guide
What is in the Pegasus project data?
Show
Advertisement
Without a forensic examination of Durov’s phone, it is not possible to say whether there was any attempt to install malware on the device.

An NSO source indicated Durov was not a target, meaning the source denies he was selected for surveillance using Pegasus, NSO’s spyware. The company insists that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.

Asked directly whether Durov’s phone was a target of Pegasus or any other activity related to the spyware, an NSO spokesperson did not directly answer the question. They said: “Any claim that a name in the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or potential target is erroneous and false.” Lawyers for NSO said its decision not to respond to certain allegations should not be treated as confirmation of those claims.

But the list, which the Guardian and other media had access to as part of the Pegasus project, an international collaboration, is believed to be indicative of individuals identified as persons of interest by government clients of NSO. It includes people who were later targeted for surveillance, according to forensic analysis of their phones. Cybersecurity experts who have examined how NSO’s Pegasus spyware works say the software does not discriminate between encrypted messaging apps and can access pretty much everything on an infected phone. They say Telegram, as well as WhatsApp, Signal and other messaging apps promising end-to-end encryption, are in effect rendered powerless if the device on which they are installed is infected by hacking software as powerful as Pegasus.

Durov’s number, which appears on the list in early 2018, was the UK mobile number which has been linked to his personal Telegram account for years. Advertisement

Neither the publicity-averse Durov nor Telegram’s press office responded to requests for comment sent to their Telegram accounts. The list of governments and intelligence services that might be happy to get a look at the contents of Durov’s mobile phone is long. Durov left Russia in 2013 and has had several conflicts with the country’s security services. Telegram has also played a key role in driving protest movements in Belarus, Hong Kong and Iran.

However analysis of the leaked list suggests Durov might have been of interest to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Q&A
What is the Pegasus project?
Show
Durov has a passport from the Caribbean country of St Kitts and Nevis and has lived a peripatetic existence since leaving Russia. But papers filed at Companies House in London show that in February 2018 Durov changed his official residence from Finland to the UAE. The timing coincides with the appearance of Durov’s phone in the leaked data, and suggests it may have been a case of his hosts attempting to run checks on their controversial new resident.

Despite an avowed disdain for the concept of nation states, Durov has cosied up to the rulers of his new home country since his move. In February this year, he met Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai. “We continue to welcome great talent and ideas to Dubai, which offers a nurturing ecosystem for their development,” said Sheikh Hamdan after the meeting, according to a press release from Dubai authorities. The UAE and Dubai did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations regarding Durov. The Guardian understands Dubai is a former client of NSO, but had its access to Pegasus terminated after an investigation into allegations of misuse.

Disclaimer: If you need to edit or update this news from compsmag then kindly contact us Learn more

For Latest News Follow us on Google News


Latest Headlines
  • Show all
  • Trending News
  • Popular By week
COVID-19: Education replaced by closed schools, violence, teenage pregnancy |
COVID-19: Education replaced by closed schools, violence, teenage pregnancy |
© UNICEF/Francis Emorut Remote learning ‘out of reach’ A teenage student studies at home during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda. As of today, the UN agency ...
Zach Apple misses out on the finals in the 100 freestyle but wins a gold in the 200 freestyle relay
Zach Apple misses out on the finals in the 100 freestyle but wins a gold in the 200 freestyle relay
» PHOTOS: Apple anchors relay team to gold medal Edgewood High School graduate Zach Apple returned to the pool at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday night ...
Ransomware attack before holiday leaves companies scrambling
Qube Money launches premium accounts | State News
Qube Money is a mobile banking app that provides real-time banking solutions to make spending and saving with purpose an easy, seamless part of life. Qube ...
NBC’s Tokyo Olympics viewership gets off to rough start
NBC’s Tokyo Olympics audience got off to a rough start
The numbers improve slightly when alternatives are figured in: People could follow the Olympics Sunday night not just on NBC, but also on USA, NBCSN, CNBC ...
Dr. Mario World to shut down on iOS and Android Phones
Dr. Mario World to shut down on iOS and Android Phones
Nintendo has announced that Dr. Mario World’s game service will end at 06:00 UTC on November 1, 2021, roughly two and half years after the game launched. A ...
Brewers ‘Yelich on COVID-19 list after positive test
Brewers ‘Yelich on COVID-19 list after positive test
“Clearly disappointing news for Christian,” Stearns said. “The most important thing is for him to feel better. He has mild symptoms. I talked to him this ...
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 might join the Galaxy S22 as an iPad Pro competitor
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 might join the Galaxy S22 as an iPad Pro competitor
Advertisement This year has been fairly quiet as far as Android tablets go, with the iPad Pro (2021) gobbling up most of the top-end tablet attention, but ...
Chelsea are waiting for Erling Haaland to make a move
Chelsea are waiting for Erling Haaland to make a move
The west Londoners are keen to steal a march on the competition they would certainly face next season when his release clause becomes active, by potentially ...
'I want a solution to this problem' |  Business owner in downtown Austin reacts to implementation of camping ban
SQUIRE Technologies Gets $60M Financing for Series D; Rating triples to 750M
This product will increase the opportunity for shop owners to become more effective, as well as fine tune their business acumen, by helping their barbers build ...
Fundraising t-shirt for Lightning anthem singer with COVID
Fundraising t-shirt for Lightning anthem singer with COVID
And the dollars are already pouring in. A GoFundMe account has also been set up by good friend, Thomas Schooley, to help Bryson-Kirksey and her family. “I’m ...
Show next
Compsmag - Latest News from tech, business and health
Logo