State-sponsored attackers

28 11 2021

Prachatai reports that “[s]everal pro-democracy activists and academics have reported receiving an email from Apple warning them that ‘state-sponsored attackers’ are [or may be] targeting their devices.”

The activists have “received an email from Apple saying that it believes that he is being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are ‘trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with [his] Apple ID’ and that, if the device is compromised, these attackers may have access to ‘sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone’.”

Most of those who received the message are anti-regime activists but also included were several academics, including Puangthong Pawakapan, a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Prajak Kongkirati, a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, and independent researcher Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

Worryingly, those targeted included Yingcheep Atchanont from the legal monitor group, iLaw. It seems clear that the regime is now angling to destroy or limit one of the few groups monitoring the regime’s lawfare.

The spyware used is probably Pegasus, made by the Israeli NSO Group and mostly used by governments, armed forces, and intelligence agencies. Last week, Apple issued a press release “stating that it has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group and its parent company ‘to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users’ and is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple products.” The press release also stated “that Apple is notifying the targeted users and that it will continue to do so whenever it discovers activities likely to be state-sponsored attacks.” Apple had also updated its operating system to limit these attacks.

Thai Enquirer reports that opposition parties, including Puea Thai and Move Forward had made the reasonable accusation that the regime is “behind the latest wave of cyber-attacks targeting activists and critics.”

The regime confirmed this by declaring “that there is no evidence to back their allegations.” It doubled down on this confirmation through a blatant lie, with a spokesperson declaring: ““We insist this is untrue, the government respects individual liberties…”. Everyone knows this is buffalo poo.

Move Forward logically concluded that it is “the military’s secret budget [that] was used to fund such attacks.”

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Dechathorn “Hockhacker” Bamrungmuang, from Rap Against Dictatorship, “vowed not to be silenced … after he and at least five other government critics received messages from Apple warning that state-sponsored hackers could be targeting their phones.”

Ominously, he added: “I think the state won’t stop at this.”

Further updated: Dechathorn arrested

20 08 2020

Al Jazeera reports that Rap Against Dictatorship artist Dechathorn Bamrungmuang – “Hockey”/”Hockhacker” – has been arrested and charged with sedition.

Known for its anti-military government lyrics, Rap Against Dictatorship’s ประเทศกูมี video got millions of views in late 2018 and caused international attention to the nature of the military dictatorship and its rigged election.

Dechathorn was arrested on Thursday, and “brought to a police station outside the capital Bangkok ‘for documentation’, and is expected to be transferred to Samran Rat central station, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).”

It may be that his arrest is for “appearing and singing on stage at recent student-led pro-democracy protests.”

Rap Against Dictatorship “have over 500,000 followers on the video platform, YouTube, and their songs have attracted more than 100 million views.”

The report says that at least four other activists have been arrested over the past 18 hours.

Update: In fact, the political dragnet caught up nine democracy activists. It is reported that the nine were granted bail after being arrested for alleged offenses at political rallies on 18 July and 3 August. Bail was granted when three Move Forward Party MPs, two Puea Thai Party MPs and four academics used their positions to act as guarantors. The arrests represent a concerted and coordinated effort by the regime to squash the rising rebellion.

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