A four month investigation by Amnesty International has revealed a full on campaign of cyber attacks on human rights defenders in Pakistan. Social media accounts were hacked and computers and smartphones were infected with spyware. Cyber attackers are using fake identities to reel in human rights defenders and put them on the cyber crime watch list.
This exposes the victims to fraud, theft and even physical harm. Fake facebook and Google logins have even been used to steal passwords.
The report titled “Human Rights Under Surveillance: Digital Threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan” has revealed a network of attackers. It is already very unsafe to be a human rights defender in Pakistan, cites Amnesty International and these attacks are exacerbating the situation.
The report highlights the case of Diep Saeeda, her friend Raza Mahmood Khan was the subject of an enforced disappearance. His crime was a campaign encouraging people from Pakistan and India to write letters to each other. When she called for his release in court, she began receiving messages from unknown persons concerned about Raza’s safety. They sent her links to files containing a malware called StealthAgent that would have infected her mobile devices.
Several such attacks have been traced to Pakistan and Amnesty International is encouraging action on them through the government.