Egyptian NGOs And Activists Targeted In Online Phishing Campaign

February 3, 2017

On February 2, 2017, it was reported that seven major Egyptian human rights and feminist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had been targeted by a large online phishing campaign with the intent of collecting personal information on the NGOs’ employees as well as other rights activists, according to the Egyptian Initiative Personal Rights (EIPR).EIPR, as well as six other Egyptian NGOs and Egyptian independent activists were hit by 92 phishing attacks between November 24, 2016 and January 31, 2017. The other six targets were Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Nazra for Feminist studies, and one more NGO that preferred to remain anonymous.

The EIPR’s report said that the Egyptian government could be behind the attacks, as Google had notified the group during the attacks that it had detected “government-backed attackers” trying to steal their Gmail password. EIPR said some of the individuals believed to be targeted in the phishing campaign are among those accused in the ongoing court case known as “the illegal NGO foreign funding case.” Screenshots of the attack attempts were included in the report, as well as warnings from Google.

The NGO funding case goes back to late 2011 when the Egyptian Ministry of Justice accused several NGOs of illicitly receiving funds from foreign governments and institutions. The case was reopened in 2016, and the prosecution added more NGOs and activists to the accused list, barring a number of rights activists from traveling while freezing their assets. Among those added to the case include renowned rights activists Hossam Bahgat, a journalis who founded the Egyptian Initiative for Personnel Rights (EIPR); Bahy El-Din Hassan, the founder of Cairo Institute for Human Rights; Mozn Hassan, the founder of Nazra; and Azza Soleiman, the head of the Center for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance.

Source: English.ahram.org.eg, February 2, 2017