Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Maker, Seeking to Block Its Access to iPhones


The Government of Israel, which approves any sale of NSO software to foreign governments, and considers software to be an essential foreign policy tool, is lobbying the United States to lift the ban on behalf of the NSO. NSO said it would fight the ban, but the chief executive decided to take over the NSO Group and left after the business was blacklisted, the company said.

A week after the federal ban, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the NSO’s motion to dismiss Facebook’s claim. The Israeli firm claimed it “could claim foreign sovereign immunity.” The court decision “3 to 0” rejected the NSO’s argument and allowed the consideration of Facebook’s claim.

The events helped set the stage for Apple’s lawsuit against the NSO on Tuesday. Apple first came to the NSO’s spotlight in 2016 when researchers at Citizen Lab, a research institute at Munch’s School of Global Relations at the University of Toronto, and Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security company now owned by BlackBerry, discovered that NSO Spyware Pegasus was exploitation of three security vulnerabilities in Apple products spy on dissidents, activists and journalists.

And the company is under threat of default, rating agency Moody’s warns. Moody’s downgraded the NSO rating two notches, eight notches below investment grade, citing its $ 500 million debt and serious cash flow problems.

NSO spyware gave government clients access to all the contents of the victim’s phone, allowing agents to read the target’s text messages and emails, record phone calls, record sounds and footage from their cameras, and track a person’s whereabouts.

Internal documents of the NSO, leaked to The New York Times in 2016 revealed that the company was charging government agencies $ 650,000 to spy on 10 iPhone users – along with a half-million-dollar installation fee. The documents show that among the first clients of NSO were the government agencies of the United Arab Emirates and Mexico.

These revelations have led to the discovery of NSO spyware on the phones of human rights activists in the Emirates and journalists, activists and human rights lawyers in Mexico – even their teenage children living in the United States.


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