The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has escalated with a hacking campaign targeting journalists, human rights advocates, a UN representative, and civil society members.
The hacking appears to be closely linked to the military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the use of military-grade spyware, Pegasus
, has been documented for the first time in a military conflict.
The investigation was conducted by researchers at Access Now, CyberHUB-AM, the Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, and Ruben Muradyan.
Anna Naghdalyan, a former Armenia foreign ministry spokesperson, was hacked at least 27 times, and researchers say the timing of the attacks put her "squarely in the most sensitive conversations and negotiations related to the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis." The use of Pegasus
has raised concerns about the safety of international organizations, journalists, and others working around conflicts.
The article suggests that both Armenia and Azerbaijan may have been interested in hacking individuals related to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, but there is no evidence to suggest that Armenia has ever used the Pegasus
On the other hand, there is evidence pointing to Azerbaijan as an NSO
customer, including some Pegasus
one-click infections linked to infrastructure that masqueraded as Azerbaijani political websites.
The embassies of Armenia and Azerbaijan in the US did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
has said it investigates credible reports of its spyware being abused by government clients.
In 2021, the Biden administration placed NSO
Group on a blacklist due to concerns that its technology was being used to maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, and embassy workers.