NSO Group spyware attacked at least 9 U.S. State Department phones

Israeli spyware Developer NSO Group faces Increase legal pressure And controversy because its hacking tools continue to exist Abused by authoritarian regimes And law enforcement agencies around the world. Now, Apple has notified a large number of iPhone users, including at least nine U.S. State Department employees, that their devices have been compromised by unidentified hackers using NSO tools in recent months.

The source told Reuters, First report According to sources, the affected US government officials are working in Uganda or dealing with topics related to the country.Ugandan politicians also seem to Goals in the campaign. Use NSO’s Pegasus spyware for the attack, which is applicable to Apple’s iOS mobile operating system and Google’s Android operating system. detected for yearOnce installed on the device, Pegasus can track the user’s location, activate their microphone, steal data, and more.

The latest example of its abuse just underscores the long-standing warnings of privacy and human rights advocates: The National Bureau of Statistics does not have appropriate controls to restrict how its customers use its powerful sales tools. And the company has repeatedly made guarantees to the contrary—including that its spyware can’t be used to register US phone numbers—sounds hollow.

“Once the software is sold to licensed customers, NSO has no way of knowing who the customer’s target is. Therefore, we do not have and cannot know about this case,” NSO Group spokesperson Liron Bruck said in a statement, adding The company “decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system.” The statement went on to say that they had “no indication that NSO tools were used in this situation.”

This kind of reasonable denial is common in NSO Group.In one July interview with Forbes, CEO Shalev Hulio compares his company to a car manufacturer that sells cars to people who later drive after drinking and driving. But the powerful spyware used by the government is far from the car, and critics of NSO say the company has not done enough to reduce the inevitable abuse of its flagship products.

“To some extent, NSO’s claims about limiting its customer goals are even credible, which shows that the guardrails in NSO products are not enough,” said incident responder and former NSA hacker Jack Williams. “This is completely predictable. When governments have the capabilities that NSO sells to them and have unmet intelligence requirements, we should absolutely expect these governments to use whatever tools they can use.”

WhatsApp, a secure messaging app owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, Sued NSO Group in 2019 In its tools allegedly Have attacked thousands of victims By using services.Apple joined the competition Its own suit last week. In early November, the US Department of Commerce imposed sanctions on the NSO Group for misuse of Pegasus spyware.

Williams said: “You have to wonder whether these State Department attacks are the cause of the sanctions imposed by the National Bureau of Statistics.”

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