Apple sues NSO Group over spyware

Lawsuit, filed in federal court in California, alleging that NSO spyware, called Pegasus, and other malware caused damage to Apple money and property, and violate the human rights of Apple users.
“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” Apple said. said in a statement.

In a statement Tuesday, NSO Group did not address the specifics of the lawsuit and instead said the company’s technology saves lives.

NSO Group provides “legitimate tools” to help governments fight pedophiles and terrorists, the company said.

While the NSO Group has long maintained that it only sells its software to authorized users for law enforcement and counterterrorism purposes, researchers over the years have uncovered evidence. shows that Pegasus was used to survey dissidents and human rights activists.

Researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Laboratory in September reported that an unknown party is using Pegasus, and a flaw in Apple’s operating software, to track a Saudi activist.
Apple issues urgent iPhone software update to address critical spyware vulnerability

The lawsuit is the latest setback by NSO Group, which cybersecurity analysts and human rights activists have long accused of doing business with repressive governments. Its easy-to-use spyware is capable of eavesdropping on phone communications and accessing other sensitive data on the device, according to the researchers.

US Department of Commerce this month added NSO Group into the so-called “entity list,” effectively prohibiting the company from purchasing software components from U.S. suppliers without a license. The Commerce Department accused NSO Group and another Israeli company called Candiru, of supplying spyware to foreign governments, of “using these tools to maliciously target” foreign governments. journalists, embassy staff and activists.

In a statement at the time, the NSO Group said it was “disappointed by the decision that our technologies support the national security policies and interests of the United States by deterring terrorism and crime, and therefore we will be campaigning for this decision to be overturned.”

“We look forward to being fully informed on how we have the world’s most rigorous human rights and compliance programs based on [on] U.S. values ​​that we share deeply, “according to the statement,” have resulted in repeated terminations of contact. [sic] with government agencies that have misused our products. “

Candiru could not be reached for comment at the time.

Apple is at least the second largest US technology company to sue NSO Group. Facebook (now known as Meta) in 2019 sued NSO Group for allegedly enabling 1,400 phones to run the infringing messaging app WhatsApp.

NSO Group has denied the allegations made by Facebook and tried to prevent the case from continuing. But a US appeals court this month ruled that the case could go ahead.

Apple said it would contribute $10 million, plus any damages from the lawsuit, to “organizations pursuing network surveillance research and advocacy.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from NSO Group, as well as “compensation damages in the amount to be proved at trial.”

NSO Group is just one of a number of companies that sell specialized hacking tools for breaking into different types of mobile phones.

In their lawsuit, Apple’s lawyers reflect on what the company calls a “continuous arms race” between Apple engineers and NSO Group coders.

“Even as Apple develops solutions and enhances the security of its devices, Respondent continues to update its malware and exploits to bypass Apple’s security upgrades. Apple itself,” the complaint states.


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