Wed, 08 Dec 2021

Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Company NSO Group

Voice of America
24 Nov 2021, 07:36 GMT+10

Apple says it is suing Israeli NSO Group, maker of the controversial Pegasus spyware.

Apple will be the second company to sue NSO after Facebook, now Meta, sued over similar concerns that Pegasus was targeting WhatsApp users. Meta owns WhatsApp. The case is still working its way through the courts.

Apple says the spyware specifically targeted its users. It also wants to prevent NSO from using any Apple product or service, which would be a massive blow to the company that sells governments the ability to hack iPhones and Android phones in order to gain full access.

FILE - People check out the latest iPhone 13 handsets at an Apple Store in Beijing, China, Sept. 28, 2021. FILE - People check out the latest iPhone 13 handsets at an Apple Store in Beijing, China, Sept. 28, 2021.

Apple says it has created a software patch to protect devices from Pegasus.

The Cupertino, California-based company says it is seeking undisclosed damages it says it incurred because of NSO. It says it would donate any award money to organizations that investigate and expose spyware.

One such company, Citizen Lab, was central in uncovering how Pegasus worked.

"This is Apple saying: If you do this, if you weaponize our software against innocent users, researchers, dissidents, activists or journalists, Apple will give you no quarter," Ivan Krstic, head of Apple security engineering and architecture, said in an interview Monday with the New York Times.

Earlier this month, the U.S. put NSO along with three other software companies on a blacklist that places severe restrictions on their ability to do business in the U.S.

It said the companies 'developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments' and that the spyware was used 'to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics and embassy workers.'

NSO did not immediately comment on the lawsuit, but has previously said it takes precautions to prevent the abuse of its products.

The pressure against NSO appears to be working, as many news outlets reported the company was at risk of defaulting on its loans.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters.

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