20:45 GMT28 July 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - All communications technology products from any foreign country need to be checked for potential hardware and software surveillance implants in the wake of the Pegasus scandal, former US National Security Agency (NSA) Technical Director and whistleblower William Binney told Sputnik.

    Pegasus spyware, developed by Israel's NSO Group, was used to hack some 50,000 smartphones of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and business executives around the world, a journalist-NGO consortium revealed last week. Among those targeted were high-level officials from Pakistan, France, Iraq, Egypt and the European Council.

    "Standard practice is for governments to get companies to distribute their implants to spy on important people around the world," Binney said when asked about the Pegasus spyware scandal. "If you get [or] buy any communications product from a company in a foreign country, you have to scan it for implants - both hardware and software - before use. Otherwise, you are not secure."

    Binney said such surveillance was already widespread and even routine practice by the intelligence and security services of governments around the world.

    This shared knowledge by governments and security services about the methods they already employed explained the aversion of successive US administrations to the widespread global purchase of 5G products made by Huawei, Binney said.

    "This is why the big fuss about 5G equipment [that is] made in China - the fear of installing their spying system," he said.

    French President Emmanuel Macron has changed his cell phone and SIM card after reports that he was targeted by the Israeli Pegasus spyware, France Info radio station reported on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Macron also held an emergency cybersecurity meeting to weigh possible actions.

    Tags:
    China, Implants, spying, telecom, human rights, Israel, journalists
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