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HomeE.U.European Parliament finds evidence of spyware on senior officials’ phones

European Parliament finds evidence of spyware on senior officials’ phones

The European Parliament on Wednesday asked members of a defence subcommittee to check their phones for spyware after it found signs of hacking on two devices, POLITICO reports.

All lawmakers on the subcommittee were advised to take their phones to the institution’s IT service to have them checked for spyware, the email said. Members and staff of the chamber’s subcommittee on security and defence (SEDE) found intrusive surveillance software on their phones.

Ahead of the EU elections in June, the European Parliament is on high alert for cyberattacks and foreign interference.

In December, an internal review found that the institution’s cybersecurity “does not yet meet industry standards” and “does not fully meet the threat level” posed by state-sponsored hackers and other threat groups.

On Tuesday, a member of the security and defence sub-committee went for a routine check which found traces of spyware on his phone. He told POLITICO that he did not immediately realise why the hacking software was directed at him.

Deputy parliamentary spokesperson Delphine Colard said in a statement that “the traces found on two devices” was the reason for sending a letter urging people to check their phones. The statement said:

“In the given geopolitical context and given the nature of the files followed by the subcommittee on security and defence, a special attention is dedicated to the devices of the members of this subcommittee and the staff supporting its work.” 

The new revelations follow previous incidents of spyware being used against other members of the European Parliament. In 2022, researchers found that the phones of members of the Catalan independence movement, including EU politicians, were infected with two types of hacking tools Pegasus and Candiru.

That same year, Greek EU MP and opposition leader Nikos Androulakis was on a list of Greek political and public figures who were infected with Predator, another spy tool. Parliament President Roberta Metsola had also previously faced an attempted hack with spyware.

Members of the European Parliament set up a special committee to investigate the issue in 2022. It has investigated a number of scandals in countries such as Spain, Greece, Hungary and Poland and said at least four EU governments have used hacking tools for political purposes.

The parliament’s IT service launched a system to check MPs’ phones for spyware in April last year. It has carried out “hundreds of operations” since the programme was launched, it said in a statement.

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