Apple sues Israeli spyware maker for targeting its users

Apple sues Israeli spyware maker for targeting its users


Washington: Apple on Tuesday sued the Israeli spyware maker at the center of the Pegasus surveillance scandal, seeking to block NSO Group from targeting the over one billion iPhones in circulation.

The Silicon Valley giant’s lawsuit has added to the troubles facing the troubled NSO, which has become controversial after reports that tens of thousands of activists, journalists, and politicians have been listed as potential targets for its Pegasus spyware.

US authorities just weeks ago blacklisted NSO to restrict exports from American groups over allegations the Israel firm “enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression.”

“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” Apple said in a statement announcing the lawsuit filed in US federal court in California.

“Defendants are notorious hackers – amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse,” the iPhone maker wrote in its case.

NSO has consistently denied any wrongdoing and insisted its software is intended for use by authorities only in fighting terrorism and other crimes.

“Pedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe-havens, and we provide governments the lawful tools to fight it. NSO group will continue to advocate for the truth,” the firm said in a statement to AFP.

Smartphones infected with Pegasus have essentially become pocket spy devices, allowing users to read targeted messages, view their photos, track their location, and even turn on their cameras without their knowledge.

According to Apple, there are 1.65 billion active Apple devices worldwide, including more than 1 billion iPhones.

Apple’s lawsuit is not the first lawsuit of a large technology company-Facebook sued NSO Group in 2019, accusing it of using WhatsApp Messenger to conduct cyberespionage against journalists, human rights activists and others.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in California, accusing approximately 1,400 devices of targeting malware to steal valuable information from users who use the messaging app.

“This is not good news for NSO. It is reported that NSO is in danger of defaulting more than 500 million US dollars in debt. Recently, the leadership and their CEO have changed. France withdrew from the planned purchase after the US sanctions.” Said Jack Williams of sanctions. Network security company BreachQuest.

Following the initial concerns about Pegasus, Apple released a fix in September to fix a vulnerability that allows NSO’s spyware to infect devices without users even having to click on malicious messages or links.

The so-called “zero-click” attack is able to silently corrupt the targeted device, and was identified by researchers at Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity watchdog organization in Canada.

Apple said Tuesday it is notifying the “small number” of users that it discovered may have been targeted by those types of attacks.

“Mercenary spyware firms like NSO Group have facilitated some of the world s worst human rights abuses and acts of transnational repression, while enriching themselves and their investors,” said Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert.

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