NSO Group Spyware targets at least 9 State Department phones.

Israeli spyware Developer NSO Group has faced increasing legal pressure and controversy as its hacking tools continue to be abused by oppressive governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. Apple has now alerted a large number of iPhone users, including at least nine U.S. State Department employees, that in recent months their devices have been hacked by unknown hackers operating NSO tools. A compromise was reached.

Sources told Reuters, which was the first to report that the affected US government officials were working in Uganda or on issues related to the country. Ugandan political figures were also visible. Targeted in the campaign.. Attacks using NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which works on both Apple’s iOS mobile operating system and Google’s Android OS, have been known for years. Once installed on the device, Pegasus can track a user’s location, activate their microphone, steal data, and more.

This latest example of its abuse certainly points to the fact that privacy and human rights advocates have long warned: that the NSO does not have adequate control over the fact that its clients How to use the powerful tools he sells. And the company’s repeated assurances to the contrary – including that its spyware cannot be used against devices registered with a US phone number.

NSO Group spokesman Lerone Burke said in a statement: “Once the software is sold to a licensed user, the NSO has no way of knowing who the target users are, such as That is, we were not aware of it and could not have. ” The statement added that the company “has decided to immediately terminate the access of relevant users to the system.” The statement said they had “no indication that NSO tools have been used in this case.”

This rebuttal claim is common to the NSO group. In a July interview with Forbes, CEO Shalev Hulio compares his company to an automaker that sells cars to someone who later drives drunk. But the use of powerful spyware by governments is a far cry from automobiles, and critics of the NSO say the company has never done enough to reduce the unavoidable excesses that its flagship product invites. Is.

“To the extent that NSO’s claims about limiting its consumer targets were ever credible, it shows that the checkpoints in NSO’s product were insufficient,” said one incident respondent and former NSA hacker. Says Jack Williams. “It simply came to our notice then. Will use

WhatsApp, a secure messaging app owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, sued the NSO Group in 2019 when its tools were allegedly used to hack thousands of victims by exploiting the service. Apple came into the field last week with its suit. And in early November, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned the NSO Group from misusing Pegasus spyware.

“You have to think about whether the State Department’s attacks are a reason to approve the NSO,” Williams said.

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