Illustration by Max Fleishman

Meet Ahmed Mansoor, the world’s most spied-on man: Layer 8 Podcast

You may have recently updated your iPhone to patch security flaws. You can thank Ahmed Mansoor for that.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Published Sep 2, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 2:57 am CDT

They call him the “million dollar dissident.”

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Ahmed Mansoor has been targeted for a decade. As a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates, he has suffered theft, assault, prison, and repression. He’s also a regular target of state-sponsored hacking.

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Mansoor recently made headlines after he helped researchers uncover the most sophisticated spyware ever discovered. Dubbed Pegasus by its creator, an Israeli firm called NSO Group, the suite of malware revealed flaws in Apple iOS that recently forced the company to issue a critical update to its hundreds of millions of users.

In this premiere episode of the Layer 8 Podcast, Mansoor talks about his life, his work, and why he continues on despite the government’s eyes trained on his every move in both cyberspace and the street. 

Read more:

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  1. The ‘Million Dollar Dissident’ Is a Magnet for Government Spyware (Motherboard  • August 2016)
  2. Sophisticated, persistent mobile attack against high-value targets on iOS (Lookout • August 2016)

  3. Everything We Know About NSO Group: The Professional Spies Who Hacked iPhones With A Single Text (Forbes • August 2016)
  4. The Million Dollar Dissident: NSO Group’s iPhone Zero-Days used against a UAE Human Rights Defender (Citizen Lab • August 2016)  


  1. Chris Zabriskie – Wonder Cycle (CC BY 4.0)
  2. Chris Zabriskie – I Am a Man Who Will Fight for Your Honor (CC BY 4.0)
  3. Candlegravity – Tomie’s Bubbles (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)
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Contact the author: Patrick Howell O’Neill, [email protected]

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*First Published: Sep 2, 2016, 6:00 am CDT