In 2019 NSO agreed to reconnect the Pegasus system in Saudi Arabia, in the context of Netanyahu’s contacts regarding the Abraham Accords. Until the accords were announced, Israel gave NSO a permit to sell Pegasus to almost all of the countries that signed the agreements.
(Jan. 28, 2022)
The F.B.I. had bought a version of Pegasus, NSO’s premier spying tool. For nearly a decade, the Israeli firm had been selling its surveillance software on a subscription basis to law-enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, promising that it could do what no one else — not a private company, not even a state intelligence service — could do: consistently and reliably crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone.
(Jan. 28, 2022)
The Times found that sales of Pegasus played a critical role in securing the support of Arab nations in Israel’s campaign against Iran and negotiating the Abraham Accords, the 2020 diplomatic agreements, signed at a Trump White House ceremony, that normalized relations between Israel and some of its longtime Arab adversaries.
The U.S. had also moved to acquire Pegasus, The Times found. The F.B.I., in a deal never previously reported, bought the spyware in 2019, despite multiple reports that it had been used against activists and political opponents in other countries. It also spent two years discussing whether to deploy a newer product, called Phantom, inside the United States.
– Amnesty International have filed a lawsuit in Israel following the WhatsApp hack
– Amnesty have accused NSO of not giving due diligence in selling their product
– This week WhatsApp said NSO’s spyware software was used in a security breach
– WhatsApp said the attack may have been launched against human rights groups
Amnesty International is supporting a legal action to take the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) to court, to demand that it revokes the export license of NSO Group, an Israeli company whose spyware products have been used in chilling attacks on human rights defenders around the world.
In a petition to be filed tomorrow at the District Court of Tel Aviv, approximately 30 members and supporters of Amnesty International Israel and others from the human rights community set out how the MoD has put human rights at risk by allowing NSO to continue exporting its products.
An Israeli firm accused of supplying tools for spying on human-rights activists and journalists now faces claims that its technology can use a security hole in WhatsApp, the messaging app used by 1.5 billion people, to break into the digital communications of iPhone and Android phone users.
Security researchers said they had found so-called spyware — designed to take advantage of the WhatsApp flaw — that bears the characteristics of technology from the company, the NSO Group.
Unabhängig davon, ob ein Anruf angenommen wird oder nicht, kann allein schon mit dem Versuch eines Verbindungsaufbaus der Exploit-Code übermittelt werden, so dass sich die Malware installieren lässt.
Eine Schad-Software, die diesen Bug bereits aktiv ausnutzt, ist ein Staatstrojaner namens Pegasus. Dieser wird von der israelischen Firma NSO Group entwickelt und an verschiedene staatliche Behörden lizenziert.
WhatsApp told the Financial Times, which broke the story, that „the attack has all the hallmarks of a private company known to work with governments to deliver spyware that reportedly takes over the functions of mobile phone operating systems. We have briefed a number of human rights organizations to share the information we can, and to work with them to notify civil society.“
On Monday, Amnesty International said it was backing legal action against the Israeli Ministry of Defence demanding that it revokes NSO Group’s export licence. Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty Tech, said: ‘NSO Group sells its products to governments who are known for outrageous human rights abuses, giving them the tools to track activists and critics.’
An Israeli company licenses software around the world that can crack just about any smartphone, but is its use always on the side of good?
Hulio’s company, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, first made global headlines in 2016 when its tools were used by the authoritarian government of the UAE in order to spy on Ahmed Mansoor, an award-winning human rights activist. The company has never fully addressed the spying; Mansoor currently sits, untried and unable to regularly contact his family, in an unidentified prison somewhere in the UAE on charges of criticizing the UAE government.
The spotlight did not dissuade the company. Instead, it served as an advertisement to other authoritarian governments about NSO Group’s exceptional ability …
In early June 2018, an Amnesty International staff member received a suspicious WhatsApp message in Arabic. The text contained details about an alleged protest outside the Saudi embassy in Washington D.C., followed by a link to a website. Investigations by Amnesty International’s technology team revealed that clicking the link would have, according to prior knowledge, installed “Pegasus”, a sophisticated surveillance tool developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group.
Like many other Israeli startups in the security field, NSO was founded in 2010 by three veterans of the army’s premier signals intelligence unit, 8200: Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie and Shalev Hulio. They started work on Pegasus, which remains NSO’s only product, immediately after founding the company.