Apple suing Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group

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Tech giant Apple has sued Israel’s NSO Group, seeking to block the world’s most notorious hacker-for-hire company from breaking into Apple’s products like the iPhone.

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RICHMOND, Va. Tech giant Apple announced Tuesday that it is suing Israel’s NSO Group, seeking to stop the world’s most notorious hacker-for-hire company from breaking into Apple’s products like the iPhone.

Apple said in a complaint filed in federal court in California that NSO Group employees “are 21st century mercenaries who have built highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and major abuse.” Apple said spyware from NSO Group, called Pegasus, was used to attack a small number of Apple customers around the world.

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“State-sponsored actors such as the NSO group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. This needs to change,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.

NSO Group has largely denied wrongdoing and said its products have been used by governments to save lives.

“Pedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe havens, and we provide governments with legitimate tools to fight this. NSO Group will continue to advocate for truth,” the company said in a statement.

This is the latest blow to the hacking firm, which was recently blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce and is currently being prosecuted by social media giant Facebook.

Security researchers have found that Pegasus is being used to break into the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even members of Catholic clergy around the world.

Pegasus sneaks into phones to clear personal and location data and secretly controls the smartphone’s microphones and cameras. Researchers have found several examples of NSO Group tools using so-called “zero clicks” to infect targeted mobile phones without any user interaction.

The Biden administration announced this month that NSO Group and another Israeli cybersecurity firm called Candiru were being added to the “entity list,” which limits their access to American components and technology by requiring government permission for exports. Is.

This month, security researchers revealed that Pegasus spyware had been detected on the cellphones of six Palestinian human rights activists. And Mexican prosecutors recently announced that they have arrested a businessman on charges that he used Pegasus spyware to spy on a journalist.

Facebook has sued NSO Group over its use of a similar exploit, which was allegedly infiltrated through its globally popular encrypted WhatsApp messaging app. A US federal appeals court this month issued a ruling that rejected NSO Group’s attempt to quash the lawsuit.

Apple also announced Tuesday that it is donating $10 million to cyber surveillance researchers and advocates, as well as any damages won in the NSO Group lawsuit.

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