The phone numbers of French President Emmanuel Macron is said to be amongst the list of 50,000 names on Israeli company NSO's Pegasus target list, i24 News reported.
It was revealed by France's Le Monde that Macron's numbers and the phone numbers of several members of the French government appeared on the list of 50,000 targets obtained by Amnesty International and Forbidden News for NSO's controversial Pegasus programme.
However, there is no way of telling whether or not Macron's phone was infected with Pegasus, only that he was on a list of targets requested by NSO clients.
A spokesperson for the French Presidency said: "If the story is true, it is obviously very serious. All the light will be shed on these press revelations."
Pegasus is a piece of malware that infects the smartphone, exploiting vulnerabilities present in the technology.
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The malware can be installed by way of text messaging a malicious link to be clicked on.
Pegasus — once installed — it virtually undetectable, and can access to the phone, including call logs, messages, emails. The software can activate the microphone and camera to record conversations, essentially making a smartphone a walking surveillance device.
It is said location services can be activated, and the whereabouts of the phone owner can be tracked to pinpoint accuracy.
In 2020, NSO was sued by Facebook-owned WhatsApp for allegedly exploiting vulnerabilities in the popular app to spy on users, including 1400 activists and journalists, who were informed they were being spied on.
The vulnerability was eventually fixed by WhatsApp.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense licences Pegasus software to be exported to foreign governments, but not private entities.
READ: French prosecutor opens probe after Pegasus spyware complaint