December 9, 2022

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Apple sues Israel’s NSO for targeting iPhone and other device users with Pegasus spyware

Image Courtesy: File Courtesy

Apple wants to prevent the world's most infamous hacker-for-hire firm from breaking into iPhones and other Apple goods.

On Tuesday, Apple filed a lawsuit against spyware company NSO for targeting iPhone and other Apple devices customers. Apple stated that the Israeli company at the core of the Pegasus spyware affair must be held accountable. The lawsuit from the Silicon Valley behemoth adds to NSO’s woes, which were already roiled by claims that tens of thousands of activists, journalists, and politicians were classified as prospective Pegasus spyware targets.

Only a few weeks ago, US authorities imposed restrictions on NSO’s interactions with American organisations, alleging that the Israeli corporation “allowed other governments to undertake transnational repression.”

In a statement announcing the complaint, Apple stated, “To avoid additional abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting NSO Group from utilising any Apple software, services, or devices.”

“The NSO Group develops sophisticated, state-sponsored surveillance technology that enables its highly focused spyware to monitor its targets,” it continued.

Following the initial outcry over Pegasus, a new wave of concerns arose in September when iPhone maker Apple announced a workaround for a flaw that allows the spyware to infect devices without the user ever clicking on a dangerous message or link.

Researchers at Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity watchdog organisation, discovered the so-called “zero-click,” which can surreptitiously infect the targeted device.

Apple wants to prevent the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm from breaking into iPhones and other Apple goods.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Apple is suing Israel’s NSO Group, attempting to prevent the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm from hacking into Apple’s devices, including the iPhone, according to the Associated Press.

NSO Group personnel are “amoral 21st century mercenaries who have constructed extremely sophisticated cyber-surveillance gear that promotes routine and egregious misuse,” according to an Apple complaint filed in federal court in California. NSO Group’s spyware, known as Pegasus, was used to assault a small number of Apple customers around the world, according to Apple.

“State-sponsored actors, such as the NSO Group, spend millions of dollars on advanced monitoring technologies without being held accountable. “That has to change,” Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said.

NSO Group has issued a blanket denial of wrongdoing, claiming that its products have been used by governments to combat terrorism and crime. On Tuesday, the corporation did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s the latest setback for the hacking outfit, which was recently placed on the US Commerce Department’s blacklist and is being sued by Facebook.

Pegasus has been discovered being used to hack into the phones of human rights activists, journalists, and even Catholic clergy members around the world, according to security researchers.

Pegasus infiltrates phones to collect personal and location data while also controlling the microphones and cameras invisibly. Researchers discovered multiple examples of NSO Group malware that leverage so-called “zero click” flaws to infect mobile phones without requiring user involvement.

NSO Group and Candiru, an Israeli cybersecurity business, were put to the “entity list” by the Biden administration this month, limiting their access to U.S. components and technology and requiring government clearance for exports.

Pegasus malware was discovered on the cellphones of six Palestinian human rights activists earlier this month, according to security researchers. Prosecutors in Mexico recently reported the arrest of a businessman on suspicion of using the Pegasus malware to spy on a journalist.

Facebook has sued NSO Group for allegedly intruding into its globally famous encrypted WhatsApp messaging programme using a similar hack. NSO Group’s attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed was denied by a federal appeals court in the United States this month.

Apple also said on Tuesday that it will donate $10 million to cybersurveillance researchers and advocates, plus any damages awarded in the NSO Group complaint.

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