What is the Predator Spyware that Governments are Using to Monitor Citizens?

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity and online privacy, recent reports have shed light on the use of a powerful spyware tool known as Predator by various governments. This article aims to provide a clear and detailed overview of what the Predator spyware is and how it has been employed for domestic surveillance.

Understanding Predator Spyware

Predator is a sophisticated spyware program designed to target both Android and Apple iOS operating systems. It is not a tool available for everyday users but is reportedly being utilized by governmental authorities for surveillance purposes.

Delivery Methods

One alarming aspect of Predator’s use is its delivery methods. In some cases, it has been deployed through what experts call “zero-click attacks.” These attacks are particularly concerning because they don’t require any action from the target. Instead, the spyware is covertly installed on a victim’s device.

One example involves a network-based injection that redirects the victim to malicious web pages when they visit non-HTTPS sites. Once on these compromised websites, a zero-day exploit is used to silently install the Predator spyware on the victim’s device.

Watering Hole Attacks

In the case of Madagascar, the use of Predator spyware involved a tactic known as a “watering hole attack.” Here, links to download the spyware were cleverly embedded in WordPress blogs. These blogs contained legitimate articles taken from a respected local newspaper. This method was designed to lure unsuspecting users looking for genuine content. When users clicked on these malicious links, they could unknowingly download the Predator spyware.

Geographical Scope

Predator’s usage extends beyond a single country. Reports indicate that governments across the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere have employed this spyware to monitor their citizens. Notable mentions include Angola and Kazakhstan, where government services are alleged to have acquired and used the Predator spyware.

Concerns for Privacy and Surveillance

The use of Predator spyware by governments raises significant concerns regarding privacy and surveillance. Citizens’ online activities and personal information could be monitored without their knowledge or consent, potentially infringing on their digital rights and freedoms.


In an era where technology plays an increasingly central role in our lives, it is crucial to remain informed about the tools and tactics used in the realm of cybersecurity and surveillance. Predator spyware is a stark example of how sophisticated digital espionage can be. Understanding its methods of delivery, such as zero-click and watering hole attacks, as well as its global reach, highlights the importance of robust cybersecurity measures and the protection of online privacy. As these issues continue to evolve, staying informed and advocating for digital rights remains essential in maintaining a balance between security and personal freedom in the digital age.

Source: https://www.darkreading.com/dr-global/madagascar-predator-spyware-citizens-watering-hole-attack


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