Messages to tapping targets are published

By Yiannis Souliotis
Jul 28, 2023

An online news website published on Thursday some of the malicious text messages sent to 92 people in order to infect their cellphones with the Predator spyware.

Following complaints by some of those whose cellphones were affected, including the leader of the socialist PASOK party, Nikos Androulakis, Greece’s Data Protection Authority investigated and identified 220 messages containing a fake link infected with the Predator tracking software. The DPA also determined that the infected messages were sent to users of 92 phone numbers.

News website Inside Story published messages sent to local and government officials, as well as an official holding an important security position in the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the executive editor of Kathimerini newspaper, Alexis Papachelas.

The texts were such that the recipients could hardly ignore them as frivolous or fake. The EYP officer got the following message: “Mr Papageorgiou, you left us to take over the Security Division and things like this are happening,” pointing to a story ostensibly written for the news site Zougla.gr. The link was fake and led to the cellphone being infected with the spyware. Attica Governor Giorgos Patoulis got the following message: “Giorgo, Nassos has snapped photos of Marina (his ex-wife) with the paparazzi Papadakis!”

Inside Story has also published messages received by Dimitris Avramopoulos, former minister and EU commissioner from 2014-19, Michalis Bekiris, head of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ parliamentary office, Alexis Patelis, chief economic adviser to Mitsotakis, Papachelas and others.

But, in its July 20 announcement detailing the results of its investigation, the DPA said that there was nothing that could identify who sent those messages. All of them contained links to what appeared to be online news site posts.

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