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Partner nations target spread of malicious spyware

Nearly a dozen countries in March 2023 called for strict domestic and international controls to counter the proliferation of commercial spyware.

The governments of Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States issued the joint statement.

The countries committed to preventing the export of technology and equipment to end users who are likely to use them for “malicious cyber activity.” The statement also said the partners would share information on spyware proliferation, including intelligence to better identify such tools.

Days earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order intended to curb the malicious use of digital spy tools targeting U.S. personnel and civil society.

The order aims to pressure the secretive industry by placing new restrictions on U.S. defense, law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ purchasing decisions.

In 2021, the iPhones of at least nine U.S. State Department employees were targeted by an unknown hacker using spyware developed by an Israeli company. In late March 2023, a senior U.S. official said at least 50 U.S. government staffers stationed in 10 countries became victims of commercial hacking tools.  Reuters

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