A former executive on Meta’s security policy team was hacked by the Greek government using sophisticated spyware known as “Predator,” which tracked her for a whole year.
Artemis Seaford, who formerly worked as a trust and safety manager on Meta’s security policy team, had her phone digitally infected by malware in September of 2021, the New York Times reported Monday. Seaford was secretly under surveillance by the Greek national intelligence service, which deployed tracking software to monitor her every move. That software—“Predator”—was developed by a secretive cyber company known as “Cytrox,” which is said to be based in North Macedonia and sells commercial spyware and other surveillance tools.
Seaford is a duel Greek-U.S. citizen, making hers the first known case of an American citizen being targeted with the sophisticated spyware, the Times reports. She first became suspicious that she had been targeted after seeing her name in a leaked list of spyware targets in the Greek news media in November of 2022. Afterward, she took her phone to Citizen Lab, a digital research unit with the University of Toronto, which confirmed via digital forensics that her phone had been infected with the malware.
It’s unclear why, exactly, Seaford would have been a target for surveillance and she has recently filed a lawsuit against the unknown parties behind the spying, in the hopes of spurring a legitimate investigation into the matter.
“The evidence suggests that my hacking with Predator was based on private information most likely obtained through state intelligence wiretapping,” Seaford tweeted on Monday.
Seaford is not alone, unfortunately. For most of last year, the Greek government was ensnared in an ongoing political scandal—dubbed the “Greek Watergate”—over accusations that it had secretly spied on droves of politicians, activists, business owners, and others using commercial spyware like Predator.
“I hope is this story will encourage other victims of spyware abuse to speak out. There are more of us out there, and our stories should be neither instrumentalized nor silenced,” Seaford added. “We deserve better. Ultimately, we need our governments and EU bodies to protect us.”
The Greek government has denied that it used the spyware to hack and track Seaford and others. A representative from the government, Giannis Oikonomou, told the Times on Monday: “The Greek authorities and security services have at no time acquired or used the Predator surveillance software. To suggest otherwise is wrong... The alleged use of this software by nongovernmental parties is under ongoing judicial investigation.”
John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher with Citizen Lab, called the hacking of Seaford “diabolical” and said that the case was “further evidence that the mercenary spyware problem in the EU is out of control.”
In December of 2021, Cytrox was one of five different surveillance firms that were kicked off of Meta’s platforms and became subject to a formal ban for having violated Meta’s Community Standards and Terms of Service. Cytrox and the other companies were said to have been carrying out surveillance operations aimed at tens of thousands of Meta users.
Gizmodo reached out to Meta for comment on and will update this story if it responds.