Cyberattackers used services of US and UK companies

A screenshot from a Qurium video depicts a visualization of the cyberattacks and how Qurium defended against them. (X/Qurium)

Cyberattackers used services of technology companies based in the U.S. and U.K. to target media sites from Somalia, Kosovo, and Turkmenistan, Qurium, a nonprofit hosting the sites, said Tuesday. Earlier this month, CPJ reported on how cyberattackers used a Nebraska company, RayoByte, in attempts to knock those same media sites offline, as well as at least three others in Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines.

The findings provide new insight into how private companies are being used by malicious actors to try to suppress online reporting around the globe using distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks.

Qurium was able to defend against the attacks, but it still hasn’t found out who is behind them. “That’s the power of DDoS,” Qurium’s technical director, Tord Lundström, told CPJ’s Jonathan Rozen. “It never comes with a signature.”

Galina Timchenko targeted by Pegasus spyware

Galina Timchenko, head of the independent Russian news website Meduza (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the findings of an investigation that the phone of exiled Russian journalist Galina Timchenko was infected by Pegasus surveillance spyware while she was in Germany earlier this year.

“Journalists and their sources are not free and safe if they are spied on,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “This attack on Timchenko underscores that governments must implement an immediate moratorium on the development, sale, and use of spyware technologies. The threat is simply too large to ignore.”

Timchenko’s phone was infected by Pegasus, a spyware produced by the Israeli company NSO Group, according to a Meduza report and a joint-investigation by rights groups Access Now and research organization Citizen Lab. The infection took place shortly after Russia’s Prosecutor General designated Meduza as an “undesirable” organization –  a measure that banned the outlet from operating on Russian territory.

Read CPJ’s report on spyware’s threat to press freedom and the organization’s call for export controls on the technology.

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Journalists Attacked

Samuel Wazizi


Cameroonian news anchor and camera operator Samuel Wazizi died in government custody on August 17, 2019.

Police officers arrested him on August 2, saying they were looking for Wazizi to “get a certain information for their boss, the commissioner.”

On August 7, he was transferred to military custody and disappeared. In June 2020, military authorities disclosed that Wazizi had died of “severe sepsis” 10 days after that transfer.

CPJ has repeatedly called for authorities to allow an independent probe into Wazizi’s death.

In at least 8 out of 10 cases, the murderers of journalists go free. CPJ is waging a global campaign against impunity.

The Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide.

We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

journalists killed in 2023 (motive confirmed)
imprisoned in 2022
missing globally