Apple sues NSO Group, an Israeli spyware firm

Image source, Getty Images

Outside the NSO offices, a woman is using her smartphone

Apple has sued NSO Group, an Israeli spyware company, and its parent firm for hacking iPhone users using a hacking tool.

Pegasus, the NSO software, can be infected on both Android and iPhones. It allows operators to access messages, photos, emails and records calls, as well as secretly activate microphones or cameras.

NSO Group claimed that the tools it uses were designed to combat terrorists as well as criminals.

It has been claimed that it was also used to attack activists, politicians, and journalists.

NSO Group states that it provides Pegasus exclusively to the military, law enforcement, and intelligence services of countries with excellent human-rights records.

The company was placed on the US trade blacklist earlier in the month by officials. They claimed that the software “enabled foreign government to conduct transnational suppression, which is the practice where authoritarian governments target dissidents and journalists, activists, and journalists”.

Apple’s action follows criticisms from several tech companies, including Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), Google owner Alphabet, Cisco Systems and Microsoft.

  • NSO Group: US Trade Blacklist Adds Israeli Spyware Company to the NSO Group
  • Pegasus spyware seller: It’s not us hacking, but our customers

Apple stated in a blog that it wants to make NSO Group, and OSY Technologies responsible for Apple’s surveillance and targeting.

It stated that Apple sought a permanent injunction against NSO Group to prevent any further abuse or harm.

Apple is proud of its privacy. This is Apple’s main selling point.

It’s therefore not surprising that an alleged company seeking to bypass Apple security measures might be able to threaten the Apple giant.

Apple doesn’t just stand for this, however.

All hackers can be considered different. NSO Group is sponsored by the government, Apple says.

NSO says it works only with human rights-respecting agencies.

The company has attempted to differentiate itself from the underground hackers who are doing illegal activities.

Apple rejects this distinction by suing NSO Group.

Apple is stating that regardless of your origin, it doesn’t really matter who you might be. If they find a way to hack an Apple product they’ll act – no matter what the motives.

It has a little more depth.

Apple will find it easier to sue the private sector than the government allegedly using the tech.

Apple filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Northern District of California claiming that NSO tools were used to “target and attack Apple customers in 2021” and that NSO spyware was installed on US citizens’ mobile phones that could and does cross international borders.

Apple claimed that NSO Group created over 100 false Apple ID credentials in order to execute its attacks.

According to the tech giant, its servers weren’t hacked. However, NSO mismanaged and manipulated them in order to attack Apple users.

Apple claims NSO Group also provided consultancy services in the creation of spyware. NSO however maintains it sells tools only to its clients.

Apple stated that it was being forced into an arms race with NSO. NSO was accused of “constantly updating and exploiting their malware to bypass Apple’s security upgrades”.

Apple announced that $10 million of the damages it received in the lawsuit will be donated to cybersurveillance research organisations, including Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which was the first to discover NSO attacks.

NSO Group responded by saying that NSO Group’s customers had saved thousands of lives.

We provide legal tools for governments to combat terrorists and paedophiles in safe-havens that allow them to freely act as terrorists or pedophiles. [them].

“NSO group will continue advocating for the truth.”


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