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The Hacker News - Cybersecurity News and Analysis: NSO Group

Pegasus Spyware Reportedly Hacked iPhones of U.S. State Department and Diplomats

Pegasus Spyware Reportedly Hacked iPhones of U.S. State Department and Diplomats

December 04, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple reportedly notified several U.S. Embassy and State Department employees that their iPhones may have been targeted by an unknown assailant using state-sponsored spyware created by the controversial Israeli company NSO Group, according to multiple reports from  Reuters  and  The Washington Post . At least 11 U.S. Embassy officials stationed in Uganda or focusing on issues pertaining to the country are said to have  singled out  using iPhones registered to their overseas phone numbers, although the identity of the threat actors behind the intrusions, or the nature of the information sought, remains unknown as yet. The attacks, which were carried out in the last several months, mark the first known time the sophisticated surveillance software has been put to use against U.S. government employees. NSO Group is the maker of Pegasus , military-grade spyware that allows its government clients to stealthily plunder files and photos, eavesdrop on conversations, and track the whereabou
Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries

Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries

November 25, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Israel's Ministry of Defense has dramatically restricted the number of countries to which cybersecurity firms in the country are allowed to sell offensive hacking and surveillance tools to, cutting off 65 nations from the export list. The revised list, details of which were first reported by the Israeli business newspaper  Calcalist , now only includes 37 countries, down from the previous 102: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. Notably missing from the list are countries such as Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E, which have been previously identified as customers of Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group. In curtailing the exports, the move effecti
Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware

Apple Sues Israel's NSO Group for Spying on iPhone Users With Pegasus Spyware

November 23, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Apple has sued NSO Group and its parent company Q Cyber Technologies in a U.S. federal court holding it accountable for illegally targeting users with its Pegasus surveillance tool, marking yet another setback for the Israeli spyware vendor. The Cupertino-based tech giant painted NSO Group as "notorious hackers — amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse." In addition, the lawsuit seeks to permanently prevent the infamous hacker-for-hire company from breaking into any Apple software, services or devices. The iPhone maker, separately, also revealed its plans to  notify targets  of state-sponsored spyware attacks and has committed $10 million, as well as any monetary damages won as part of the lawsuit, to cybersurveillance research groups and advocates. To that end, the company intends to display a "Threat Notification" after the targeted users sign into appleid.apple[
US Sanctions Pegasus-maker NSO Group and 3 Others For Selling Spyware

US Sanctions Pegasus-maker NSO Group and 3 Others For Selling Spyware

November 03, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday added four companies, including Israel-based spyware companies NSO Group and Candiru , to a list of entities engaging in "malicious cyber activities." The agency said the two companies were added to the list based on evidence that "these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers." "These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists, and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent," the Commerce Department  said . Two other firms on the list include Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE. LTD . and Russia's Positive Technologies , the latter of which was already  sanctioned  by the U.S. Depa
NYT Journalist Repeatedly Hacked with Pegasus after Reporting on Saudi Arabia

NYT Journalist Repeatedly Hacked with Pegasus after Reporting on Saudi Arabia

October 24, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The iPhone of New York Times journalist Ben Hubbard was repeatedly hacked with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware tool over a three-year period stretching between June 2018 to June 2021, resulting in infections twice in July 2020 and June 2021. The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, which  publicized  the findings on Sunday, said the "targeting took place while he was reporting on Saudi Arabia, and writing a book about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman." The research institute did not attribute the infiltrations to a specific government. In a  statement  shared with Hubbard, the Israeli company denied its involvement in the hacks and dismissed the findings as "speculation," while noting that the journalist was not "a target of Pegasus by any of NSO's customers." To date, NSO Group is believed to have leveraged at least three different iOS exploits — namely an iMessage zero-click exploit in December 2019, a  KISMET  exploit targeting iOS 13
Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users

Facebook Sues Israeli NSO Spyware Firm For Hacking WhatsApp Users

October 29, 2019Swati Khandelwal
Finally, for the very first time, an encrypted messaging service provider is taking legal action against a private entity that has carried out malicious attacks against its users. Facebook filed a lawsuit against Israeli mobile surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, alleging that the company was actively involved in hacking users of its end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp messaging service. Earlier this year, it was discovered that WhatsApp had a critical vulnerability that attackers were found exploiting in the wild to remotely install Pegasus spyware on targeted Android and iOS devices. The flaw (CVE-2019-3568) successfully allowed attackers to silently install the spyware app on targeted phones by merely placing a WhatsApp video call with specially crafted requests, even when the call was not answered. Developed by NSO Group, Pegasus allows access to an incredible amount of data from victims' smartphones remotely, including their text messages, emails, WhatsApp chats,
NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers

NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers

August 01, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Amnesty International, one of the most prominent non-profit human rights organizations in the world, claims one of its staff members has been targeted by a sophisticated surveillance tool made by Israel's NSO Group. The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that's mostly known for selling high-tech spyware and surveillance malware capable of remotely cracking into Apple's iPhones and Google's Android devices to intelligence apparatuses, militaries, and law enforcement around the world. The company's most powerful spyware called Pegasus for iPhone , Android , and other mobile devices has previously been used to target human rights activists and journalists, from Mexico to the United Arab Emirates. Pegasus has been designed to hack mobile phones remotely, allowing an attacker to access an incredible amount of data on a target victim, including text messages, emails, WhatsApp messages , user's location, microphone, and camera —all without the victim's knowl
Ex-NSO Employee Caught Selling Stolen Phone Hacking Tool For $50 Million

Ex-NSO Employee Caught Selling Stolen Phone Hacking Tool For $50 Million

July 05, 2018Swati Khandelwal
A former employee of one of the world's most powerful hacking companies NSO Group has been arrested and charged with stealing phone hacking tools from the company and trying to sell it for $50 million on the Darknet secretly. Israeli hacking firm NSO Group is mostly known for selling high-tech malware capable of remotely cracking into Apple's iPhones and Google's Android devices to intelligence apparatuses, militaries, and law enforcement around the world. However, the phone hacking company has recently become the victim of an insider breach attack carried out by a 38-year-old former NSO employee, who stole the source code for the company's most powerful spyware called Pegasus and tried to sell it for $50 million on the dark web in various cryptocurrencies, including Monero and Zcash, Israeli media reported. That's much higher than the actual NSO Group's price tag for Pegasus, which reportedly sells for under $1 million per deployment. If you remember
Mexican Govt. Allegedly Used Spyware Against Journalists, Activists & A Child

Mexican Govt. Allegedly Used Spyware Against Journalists, Activists & A Child

June 19, 2017Swati Khandelwal
After the disclosure of sophisticated global espionage and disinformation campaign aimed to discredit enemies of the state, Citizen Lab researchers exposed the dirty game of the Mexican government and its politics. The report — " Government Spy: Systematic monitoring of journalists and human rights defenders in Mexico " — published by Citizen Lab today revealed how the Mexican government used advanced spyware tools purchased from the NSO Group to target the country's most prominent human rights lawyers, anti-corruption activists, and journalists. The NSO Group, an Israel-based company that produces the most advanced mobile spyware on the planet, sold the tool to governments with an explicit agreement that it should be used only to fight terrorists or criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans. But, the Mexican government targets include: Lawyers looking into the case of 43 Students disappeared in September 2014 from the town of Iguala. Two
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