The report on countries using Spyware was first published by The Washington Post and 16 other news organizations early this week indicating that 50,000 phone numbers are vulnerable to Spyware attacks.
Pegasus is a spyware developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones (and other devices) running most versions of iOS and Android.
Rwanda is among countries accused of using the spyware along with Mexico, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Togo, Morocco, India, United States of America (USA), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
It is said that Rwanda might hack 3500 phone numbers using the technology.
Following the revelations, Ugandan media houses run articles that Rwanda uses Spyware to hack the former Chief of Staff of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Gen David Muhoozi; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kuteesa; former Prime Minister, Rugunda Ruhakana and the Joseph Ochwet, Uganda’s Director General of External Intelligence.
The statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Government’s Spokesperson, Dr. Vincent Biruta sent to IGIHE reacting to these allegations reads that they are rumours meant to misinform Rwandans and tarnish the country’s image.
“Rwanda does not use this software as confirmed in 2019. The country does neither possess such capabilities nor that technology. These are false allegations intended to tarnish Rwanda’s reputation internationally and mislead Rwandan residents,” reads the statement.
Rwanda refuted similar allegations in 2019 after Facebook Inc accused NSO Group from Israel of using Pegasus spyware to hack people’s phones.
At the time, it was said that the country targets opposition figures and human rights activists.
Speaking to the media in 2019, President Paul Kagame explained that Rwanda does intelligence on enemies highlighting that the country can’t spend money to use that technology deemed costly.