France weighs cybersecurity moves after spyware reports


PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency cybersecurity meeting Thursday to weigh possible government action after reports that his cellphone and those of government ministers may have been targeted by spyware.

Macron changes his phones regularly and is “taking the matter very seriously,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Thursday on France-Inter radio.

A global media consortium reported this week that Pegasus spyware made by Israeli company NSO Group may have been used to target politicians, activists and journalists in several countries. French newspaper Le Monde, a member of the consortium, reported that a Moroccan security agency had the cellphones of Macron and 15 then-members of the French government on a list of potential targets of the spyware in 2019.

Morocco’s government denied wrongdoing.

Investigations are under way to determine whether the spyware was actually installed on the phones or whether data was retrieved, Attal said. He stressed the importance of broader cybersecurity efforts to protect public facilities, such as hospitals, that have been targeted by malicious software in the past.

An official with NSO, Haim Gelfand, told Israel-based i24News on Wednesday that Macron was not a target. He said the company would review some cases that were revealed by the consortium, and press clients about how they are using the system. He said the company follows a careful process before deciding who to sell systems to.

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