Israeli spyware firm NSO is facing a legal fight against some extremely powerful tech adversaries - including Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Dell - after they joined Facebook in filing a brief in a U.S. court accusing it of having "powerful and dangerous technology."
According to The Times of Israel, in 2019, WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook, filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the NSO Group, accusing the firm of targeting some 1,400 users of its encrypted messaging service with highly sophisticated spyware through missed calls. The accounts said to have been targeted include those of senior government officials, journalists and human rights activists worldwide.
A cybersecurity watchdog revealed Sunday that it had uncovered a case of zero-click vulnerability, where a text message can target a phone without the owner even opening the push notification.
An amicus brief filed Monday at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenged NSO's claim that the firm should be protected by "sovereign immunity," cited Reuters.
The four tech giants (exclusive of Facebook), maintained that by allowing NSO to claim immunity from prosecution, it would result in "more foreign governments with powerful and dangerous cyber-surveillance tools."
The brief added that if the tools fell into the wrong hands they could be used nefariously.
NSO Group's surveillance software, known as Pegasus, is designed to bypass detection and masks its activity. Its malware infiltrates phones to absorb personal and location data, surreptitiously controlling the device's microphones and cameras, allowing hackers to spy on reporters' face-to-face meetings, often with confidential sources.
Qatari state-owned media company Al-Jazeera has claimed that dozens of its journalists were targeted in this way.
One of the most notable cases of the alleged use of spyware was in the kidnap and gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in 2018.
Reprinted courtesy of i24NEWS