#1 Trusted Cybersecurity News Platform Followed by 4.50+ million
The Hacker News Logo
Subscribe – Get Latest News
Insider Risk Management

NSO Group | Breaking Cybersecurity News | The Hacker News

Apple Updates Spyware Alert System to Warn Victims of Mercenary Attacks

Apple Updates Spyware Alert System to Warn Victims of Mercenary Attacks
Apr 11, 2024 Spyware / Cyber Espionage
Apple on Wednesday  revised  its documentation pertaining to its mercenary spyware threat notification system to mention that it alerts users when they may have been individually targeted by such attacks. It also specifically called out companies like NSO Group for developing commercial surveillance tools such as Pegasus that are used by state actors to pull off "individually targeted attacks of such exceptional cost and complexity." "Though deployed against a very small number of individuals — often journalists, activists, politicians, and diplomats — mercenary spyware attacks are ongoing and global," Apple  said . "The extreme cost, sophistication, and worldwide nature of mercenary spyware attacks makes them some of the most advanced digital threats in existence today." The update marks a change in wording that previously said these "threat notifications" are designed to inform and assist users who may have been targeted by state-sponsored

U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp

U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp
Mar 02, 2024 Spyware / Privacy
A U.S. judge has ordered NSO Group to hand over its source code for  Pegasus  and other remote access trojans to Meta as part of the social media giant's ongoing litigation against the Israeli spyware vendor. The decision marks a major legal victory for Meta, which  filed the lawsuit  in October 2019 for using its infrastructure to  distribute the spyware  to approximately 1,400 mobile devices between April and May. This also  included  two dozen Indian activists and journalists. These attacks leveraged a then zero-day flaw in the instant messaging app ( CVE-2019-3568 , CVSS score: 9.8), a critical  buffer overflow bug  in the voice call functionality, to deliver Pegasus by merely placing a call, even in scenarios where the calls were left unanswered. In addition, the attack chain included steps to erase the incoming call information from the logs in an attempt to sidestep detection. Court documents released late last month show that NSO Group has been asked to "produce

Russian Journalist's iPhone Compromised by NSO Group's Zero-Click Spyware

Russian Journalist's iPhone Compromised by NSO Group's Zero-Click Spyware
Sep 14, 2023 Spyware / Malware
The iPhone belonging to Galina Timchenko, a prominent Russian journalist and critic of the government, was compromised with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, a new collaborative investigation from  Access Now  and the  Citizen Lab  has revealed. The infiltration is said to have happened on or around February 10, 2023. Timchenko is the executive editor and owner of  Meduza , an independent news publication based in Latvia. It's currently not clear who deployed the malware on the device. The Washington Post  reported  that the Russian government is not a client of NSO Group, citing an unnamed person familiar with the company's operations. "During the infection her device was localized to the GMT+1 timezone, and she reports being in Berlin, Germany," the Citizen Lab said. "The day following the infection she was scheduled to attend a private meeting with other heads of Russian independent media exiled in Europe to discuss how to manage threats and censorship by P

Protecting Your Organization From Insider Threats - All You Need to Know

cyber security
websiteWing SecuritySaaS Security
Get practical insights and strategies to manage inadequate offboarding and insider risks effectively.

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike

SHQ Response Platform and Risk Centre to Enable Management and Analysts Alike
May 13, 2024Threat Detection / SoC / SIEM
In the last decade, there has been a growing disconnect between front-line analysts and senior management in IT and Cybersecurity. Well-documented challenges facing modern analysts revolve around a high volume of alerts, false positives, poor visibility of technical environments, and analysts spending too much time on manual tasks. The Impact of Alert Fatigue and False Positives  Analysts are overwhelmed with alerts. The knock-on effect of this is that fatigued analysts are at risk of missing key details in incidents, and often conduct time-consuming triaging tasks manually only to end up copying and pasting a generic closing comment into a false positive alert.  It is likely that there will always be false positives. And many would argue that a false positive is better than a false negative. But for proactive actions to be made, we must move closer to the heart of an incident. That requires diving into how analysts conduct the triage and investigation process. SHQ Response Platfo

Predator Android Spyware: Researchers Uncover New Data Theft Capabilities

Predator Android Spyware: Researchers Uncover New Data Theft Capabilities
May 26, 2023 Spyware / Cyber Attack
Security researchers have detailed the inner workings of the commercial Android spyware called Predator, which is marketed by the Israeli company Intellexa (previously Cytrox). Predator was  first documented  by Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) in May 2022 as part of attacks leveraging five different zero-day flaws in the Chrome web browser and Android. The spyware, which is delivered by means of another loader component known as Alien, is equipped to record audio from phone calls and VoIP-based apps as well as gather contacts and messages, including from Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Its other functionalities allow it to hide applications and prevent applications from being executed upon rebooting the handset. "A deep dive into both spyware components indicates that Alien is more than just a loader for Predator and actively sets up the low-level capabilities needed for Predator to spy on its victims," Cisco Talos  said  in a technical report. Spyware like Pre

NSO Group Used 3 Zero-Click iPhone Exploits Against Human Rights Defenders

NSO Group Used 3 Zero-Click iPhone Exploits Against Human Rights Defenders
Apr 20, 2023 Zero-Day / Spyware
Israeli spyware maker NSO Group deployed at least three novel "zero-click" exploits against iPhones in 2022 to infiltrate defenses erected by Apple and deploy Pegasus, according to the latest findings from Citizen Lab. "NSO Group customers widely deployed at least three iOS 15 and iOS 16 zero-click exploit chains against civil society targets around the world," the interdisciplinary laboratory based at the University of Toronto  said . NSO Group is the manufacturer of  Pegasus , a sophisticated cyber weapon that's capable of extracting sensitive information stored in a device – e.g., messages, locations, photos, and call logs, among others — in real-time. It's typically delivered to targeted iPhones using zero-click and/or zero-day exploits. While it has been pitched as a tool for law enforcement agencies to combat serious crimes such as child sexual abuse and terrorism, it has also been deployed illegally by authoritarian governments to spy on human rig

NSO Confirms Pegasus Spyware Used by at least 5 European Countries

NSO Confirms Pegasus Spyware Used by at least 5 European Countries
Jun 23, 2022
The beleaguered Israeli surveillanceware vendor NSO Group this week admitted to the European Union lawmakers that its Pegasus tool was used by at least five countries in the region. "We're trying to do the right thing and that's more than other companies working in the industry," Chaim Gelfand, the company's general counsel and chief compliance officer, said, according to a  report  from Politico. Acknowledging that it had "made mistakes," the company also stressed on the need for an international standard to regulate the government use of spyware. The disclosure comes as a special inquiry committee was  launched in April 2022  to investigate alleged breaches of E.U. law following revelations that the company's Pegasus spyware is being used to snoop on phones belonging to politicians, diplomats, and civil society members. "The committee is going to look into existing national laws regulating surveillance, and whether Pegasus spyware was us

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists

Experts Uncover Spyware Attacks Against Catalan Politicians and Activists
Apr 19, 2022
A previously unknown zero-click exploit in Apple's iMessage was used to install mercenary spyware from  NSO Group  and  Candiru  against at least 65 individuals as part of a "multi-year clandestine operation." "Victims included Members of the European Parliament, Catalan Presidents, legislators, jurists, and members of civil society organizations," the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab  said  in a new report. "Family members were also infected in some cases." Of the 65 individuals, 63 were targeted with Pegasus and four others were infected with Candiru, with iPhones belonging to at least two compromised with both. The incidents are said to have mostly occurred between 2017 and 2020. The attacks involved the weaponization of an iOS exploit dubbed HOMAGE that made it possible to penetrate the devices running versions prior to iOS 13.2, which was released on October 28, 2019. It's worth noting that the latest version of iOS is iOS 15.4.1.

E.U. Officials Reportedly Targeted with Israeli Pegasus Spyware

E.U. Officials Reportedly Targeted with Israeli Pegasus Spyware
Apr 12, 2022
Senior officials in the European Union were allegedly targeted with NSO Group's infamous Pegasus surveillance tool, according to a  new report  from Reuters. At least five individuals, including European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, are said to have been singled out in total, the news agency said, citing documents and two unnamed E.U. officials. However, it's not clear who used the commercial spyware against them or what information was obtained following the attacks. NSO Group said in a statement shared with Reuters that it was not responsible for the hacking attempts, adding that the targeting "could not have happened with NSO's tools." The intrusions are said to have come to light after Apple notified the victims of state-sponsored attacks last November as part of its efforts to stop the Israeli surveillance firm from targeting its customers. That same month, the iPhone maker  filed a lawsuit  against NSO Group, seeking a court-issued injunction

EU Data Protection Watchdog Calls for Ban on Pegasus-like Commercial Spyware

EU Data Protection Watchdog Calls for Ban on Pegasus-like Commercial Spyware
Feb 16, 2022
The European Union's data protection authority on Tuesday called for a ban on the development and the use of Pegasus-like commercial spyware in the region, stating that the technology's "unprecedented level of intrusiveness" could endanger users' right to privacy. "Pegasus constitutes a paradigm shift in terms of access to private communications and devices, which is able to affect the very essence of our fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy," the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)  said  in its preliminary remarks. "This fact makes its use incompatible with our democratic values." Pegasus  is a piece of highly advanced military-grade intrusion software developed by Israeli company NSO Group that's capable of breaking into smartphones running Android and iOS, turning the devices into a remote monitoring tool capable of extracting sensitive information, recording conversations, and tracking users' movements.

Another Israeli Firm, QuaDream, Caught Weaponizing iPhone Bug for Spyware

Another Israeli Firm, QuaDream, Caught Weaponizing iPhone Bug for Spyware
Feb 04, 2022
A now-patched security vulnerability in Apple iOS that was previously found to be exploited by Israeli company NSO Group was also separately weaponized by a different surveillance vendor named QuaDream to hack into the company's devices. The development was reported by  Reuters , citing unnamed sources, noting that "the two rival businesses gained the same ability last year to remotely break into iPhones [and] compromise Apple phones without an owner needing to open a malicious link." The zero-click exploit in question is  FORCEDENTRY , a flaw in iMessage that could be leveraged to  circumvent iOS security protections  and install spyware that allowed attackers to scoop up a wealth of information such as contacts, emails, files, messages, and photos, as well as access to the phone's camera and microphone. Google Project Zero, which studies zero-day vulnerabilities in hardware and software systems such as operating systems, web browsers, and open source libraries,

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

Pegasus Spyware Reportedly Hacked iPhones of U.S. State Department and Diplomats
Dec 04, 2021
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
Nov 26, 2021
Israel's Ministry of Defense has dramatically restricted the number of countries to which cybersecurity firms operating in the nation 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 mov

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
Nov 24, 2021
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
Nov 04, 2021
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
Oct 25, 2021
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
Oct 29, 2019
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,
Expert Insights
Cybersecurity Resources