BySep 18, 2018
Some of the world’s most sophisticated Android and iPhone spyware has been found floating around America for the first time. It’s one of as many as 45 countries in which NSO Group malware was uncovered. And together they may represent breaches of American and other nations’ computer crime laws against cross-border hacking, not to mention a severe concern for citizens’ privacy, according to the researchers who uncovered the professional spy software.
The malware of concern, dubbed Pegasus, is the creation of NSO Group, an Israeli company valued at close to $1 billion. It can hide on Apple or Google devices, spying via the camera, listening in on conversations through the microphone, stealing documents and siphoning off once-private messages, amongst other surreptitious activities.
NSO has always protested that its tools are designed to be used to track the most heinous criminals, from terrorists to drug cartels. But the company has been caught up in spying scandals in Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. In both cases, civil rights organizations were up in arms that the iPhone malware had targeted activists, journalists and lawyers, among others who appeared entirely innocent of any crimes. Just last month, Forbes reported that an Amnesty researcher focusing on issues in the UAE had been targeted by NSO spyware. And most recently, leaked emails included in lawsuits in Israel and Cyprus against NSO Group appeared to show the company had hacked the phone of a journalist working at an Arab newspaper.