Afghan diplomats in Pakistan have been warned they are believed to be victims of “government-backed” cyber attacks trying to steal their email passwords.Afghan embassy sources told the BBC two staff members and a generic account received alerts from Google this month.
Last week Amnesty International detailed attempts to install malware on computers and phones of activists critical of Pakistan’s military.The army did not comment on allegations intelligence services were to blame. After the Google warning alerts were sent out, another Afghan diplomat’s email account was hacked and made to send out emails, without his knowledge, containing suspicious attachments.
The emails purported to contain photographs of rallies by protesters known as the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM). In fact the attachments appear to contain malicious files, although it was not possible to download and examine them.
Supporters of the Pakistani military have accused the PTM of working on behalf of the Afghan intelligence services – the two countries regularly accuse each other of working to undermine the other’s security. A source in the Afghan embassy told the BBC he was concerned that recipients of the emails sent out from the diplomat’s account could believe the Afghan embassy was linked to the movement.
The email was sent to addresses publicly linked to a number of political figures in Pakistan. They include a former information minister, and a former law minister.
It was also sent to a former senator from a Pashtun nationalist party, Bushra Gohar. Ms Gohar told the BBC: “I know for a fact that all my accounts are being observed… this is condemnable.”