In 2021, Anna Naghdalyan, a former Armenian foreign affairs agency spokesperson, received a warning from Apple about possible hacking by a foreign government. This posed serious concerns for Naghdalyan, who played a key role in the ongoing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict diplomacy. She later discovered her phone had been hacked nearly 27 times from October 2020 to July 2021.
She was not the only one targeted. At least 13 individuals in Armenia had their phones infiltrated by Pegasus, an iPhone spyware developed by Israeli company NSO Group. This discovery, made by forensic researchers and human rights activists, is believed to be the first instance of NSO’s software being used in an active warzone.
Other victims included Kristinne Grigoryan, Armenia’s Human Rights Ombudsperson, four journalists, a university professor, an unnamed United Nations Official, and various civil society members. Amnesty International suggested up to 1,000 phone numbers were potential Pegasus targets, though evidence points to just over a dozen successful hacks.
The entity behind the Armenian hacks remains unclear. NSO stated it couldn’t confirm customer identities or specific allegations due to lack of forensic report. Human rights defenders claim that the use of Pegasus in this context marks a dangerous precedent, given its exploitation of iOS vulnerabilities. This incident has amplified international concerns about the use of such spyware in conflict situations. (forbes)