Mateusz Czuchnowski- the son of Wyborcza's investigative journalist Wojciech Czuchnowski-is yet another victim in a recent wave of cyberattacks targeting family members of high-profile government critics. Last Thursday, unknown perpetrators have threatened him with death and used his phone ID to set off multiple bomb scares.
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The film director and cameraman Mateusz Czuchnowski is yet another victim of a recent wave of cyberattacks targeting family members of high-profile government critics. Other victims include the wife of opposition senator Krzysztof Brejza, the daughter of the well-known lawyer Roman Giertych, and the daughter of the former Central Anticorruption Bureau chief Paweł Wojtunik.

Over the past few days, Wyborcza’s investigative journalist Wojciech Czuchnowski described the inner workings of the surveillance operation targeting members of Poland’s political opposition. While Mr. Brejza and Giertych had their phones hacked with Pegasus spyware, Mr. Wojtunik merely commented on the issue in the media.

Deaths threats and spoof calls

Mateusz Czuchnowski is currently working on a theatre play in Poznań. On Thursday, January 20, he saw several missed calls from numbers suggesting different parts of the country. He started to call them back. - A police station in Polkowice picked up. They said that a bomb alarm had been set off from my number. Another call - the police pick up again, and again a false bomb scare - reports Mateusz Czuchnowski.

In the meantime, he picked up a call himself – the phone indicated that the Central Anticorruption Bureau's hotline was calling him. The conversation was short. The voice on the other end of the line said: "You will die for betraying your country".

On Friday, January 21, Mateusz Czuchnowski informed the police station in Jeżyce about the threats and demanded that the perpetrator be prosecuted. The police told him that false bomb threats have been sent from his phone number to places in four different regions of the country.

The phone number to which the threatening calls were made and which had been spoofed to trigger false alarms was registered years ago to our journalist Wojciech Czuchnowski. The perpetrators may not have known that the number was now being used by his son Mateusz, or they were fully aware of it and deliberately wanted to attack the journalist's son.

What is a „spoofing" attack?

The perpetrators used a method known as "spoofing". It is the practice of faking the information about an incoming call to make it look as if the number belongs to a different person or institution. Criminals use it primarily to clean bank accounts - they call customers pretending to be a bank hotline or the police. "Spoofing" helps them authenticate themselves because the potential victim sees on their display a real number or the name of a legitimate institution.

An officer from the cybercrime department at the Police Headquarters in Poznań told us how it works: - Criminals use Internet telephony, the so-called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). It can be used to connect to traditional GSM mobile telephony without any problem. So, all that is needed is for the offender to use internet telephony. A specific application allows entering any number or name in the "sender" field, which will then be displayed on our phone., On the screen, we will see that the caller is a bank or a police station. The phone numbers will match.

A wave of cyber-attacks: all victims had one thing in common

On Thursday, January 20, when the attack on Mateusz Czuchnowski took place, the daughter of Paweł Wojtunik, former head of the Central Anticorruption Bureau, also answered the phone. Someone faked her father's number and informed her that he was dead, and that "he's not breathing".

Mr. Wojtunik had also filed a criminal complaint and set a reward for helping him capture the perpetrator. He also revealed that two months earlier his daughter had received threats over the phone and abusive messages were sent to authorities from her email address.

On Friday, January 14, a week before the attacks on Czuchnowski's son and Wojtunik's daughter, police contacted Maria Giertych, the daughter of Roman Giertych, a lawyer, former deputy prime minister, and a prominent critic of the current government. Police told Mr. Giertych's daughter that false bomb scares had been set off from her phone number.

On Wednesday, January 12, two days earlier, an identical situation happened to Dorota Brejza, a lawyer and wife of the opposition senator Krzysztof Brejza. Eight calls were made from her phone number claiming that a bomb had been planted in hospitals and police stations. Ms. Brejza also demanded that the perpetrators be identified and prosecuted.

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