US Sanctions Predator Spyware Individuals And Entities For Spying On US Citizens

Giulio Saggin
Giulio Saggin
Wednesday 6 March 2024
US Sanctions Predator Spyware Individuals And Entities For Spying On US Citizens

The US has sanctioned two individuals and five entities for their involvement with the development, operation, and distribution of spyware used to target Americans.

The spyware, Predator, has targeted, among others, US government officials, journalists, and policy experts.

The individuals and entities, all part of the Intellexa Consortium which is behind the Predator spyware, include Israeli Tal Jonathan Dilian, founder of the Consortium, and Polish-born Sara Aleksandra Fayssal Hamou, a corporate off-shoring specialist.

The entities:

Intellexa S.A. - Greece-based software development company Intellexa Limited - Ireland-based technology reseller Cytrox AD - North Macedonia-based company acting as a developer of the Predator spyware Cytrox Holdings ZRT - Hungary-based entity that previously developed the Predator spyware Thalestris Limited - Ireland-based entity holding distribution rights to the Predator spyware. Also acts as a financial holding company for the Consortium

In the five years since the Intellexa Consortium appeared, it has offered its services to cyber companies selling spyware and surveillance tools for mass surveillance. The Predator spyware, a suite of tools used to infiltrate electronic devices, is known to be a favourite of Authoritarian regimes for surveillance, mainly against the US.

"Once a device is infected by the Predator spyware, (it) can be leveraged for a variety of information stealing and surveillance capabilities. This includes the unauthorised extraction of data, geolocation tracking, and access to a variety of applications and personal information on the compromised device," stated a release from the US Department of The Treasury.

As a result of the wide-ranging sanctions, all US property and interests in property related to Dilian and Hamou must be reported to The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Any of Dilian and Hamou's interests in the entities that exceeded 50% - individually or aggregate - are also blocked.

“Today’s actions represent a tangible step forward in discouraging the misuse of commercial surveillance tools, which increasingly present a security risk to the United States and our citizens,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States remains focused on establishing clear guardrails for the responsible development and use of these technologies while also ensuring the protection of human rights and civil liberties of individuals around the world."

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