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Vietnam Agents Tried To Hack Phones of Lawmakers, CNN

Vietnamese government agents tried to plant spyware on the phones of members of Congress, U.S. policy experts and journalists this year in a brazen campaign that underscores the rapid proliferation of state-of-the-art hacking tools, according to forensic examination of links posted to Twitter and documents uncovered by a consortium of news outlets that includes the Washington Post, the Post reports. Targeted were two of the most influential foreign policy voices on Capitol Hill: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and chair of its subcommittee on the Middle East. Also targeted were Asia experts at Washington think tanks and journalists from CNN, including Jim Sciutto, the network’s chief national security analyst, and two Asia-based reporters.

The targeting came as Vietnamese and U.S. diplomats were negotiating a major cooperation agreement intended to counter growing Chinese influence in the region, when Vietnamese diplomats would have been particularly interested in Washington’s views on China and issues in Asia. President Biden signed the agreement in September during a visit to Vietnam. None of the targeted individuals said their devices had been infected. The spies used the social network X, formerly known as Twitter, to try to induce the politicians and others to visit websites designed to install a hacking software known as Predator. Like its better-known competitor Pegasus, Predator is a powerful, hard-to-detect surveillance program that can turn on the microphones and cameras of Apple iPhones and devices running on Google’s Android software, retrieve all files and read private messages, even when they are end-to-end encrypted.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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