The straw that broke the apple’s back? Apple seeks to prevent NSO from using any device or service it offers. NSO claims on the other hand: “The lives of thousands around the world have been saved thanks to the use of our technologies.”
The trouble does not stop when it comes to the Israeli offensive cyber company NSO Group. Three weeks after being blacklisted by the United States, it has lost its CEO and is apparently – if you ask one of the largest credit rating agencies in the world – facing insolvency, Apple announced last night (Tuesday) that it is suing Israeli company.
The weakness that broke the apple’s back
In an official statement posted on her website, the giant from Cupertino writes that she has filed a lawsuit in federal court in the United States against NSO and against her parent company – Q Cyber. According to Apple, the purpose of the lawsuit is to claim responsibility from the Israeli company for the alleged use of its tool – Pegasus – against Apple users.
As part of the lawsuit, Apple has announced that it is asking the court to issue an order preventing the Israeli company from using Apple products, the services offered by the company and its products. The goal is, according to Apple, to prevent NSO from continuing to harm its alleged users.
“The attacks using NSO’s technology are aimed at a very small group of people, but the same technology affects many people across several platforms – including iOS and Android,” Apple said in a statement on the lawsuit against NSO.
Apple’s announcement also addresses one of the alleged vulnerabilities that Pegasus, NSO’s tool, exploited to access Apple users’ devices – called FORCEDENTRY. The same zero-click vulnerability was released last September – so Apple also announced that it had sent its users an urgent security update to shut it down.
According to Apple, in order to create the security vulnerability in Apple devices – and then exploit it to install Pegasus on the same device, the attackers created an Apple ID that sent malicious files that allowed Pegasus to be installed on those devices without the victims seemingly knowing. Apple emphasizes that although the attackers were able to exploit this vulnerability and send the malicious files with the help of users registered on its servers, no server of the company was hacked in these attacks.
This is how Pegasus, the sophisticated surveillance tool of the Israeli NSO, works
“Although NSO tracking software continues to evolve, we have not yet identified its successful attacks on users who have updated to iOS 15 or later. “Apple calls on all its users to update their iPhones and always use the latest software,” Apple said in a statement.
The American giant further said it has updated the reduced number of users of its products that may have been possible victims of exploitation of FORCEDENTRY weakness, emphasizing that whenever it discovers such use by surveillance tools in the possession of governments it will update its users on the subject.
Along with the announcement of the lawsuit against NSO, Apple has announced that it will donate $ 10 million to organizations working to expose the use of surveillance tools by countries – such as Citizen Lab, which have exposed several cases of such alleged use by NSO and Amnesty Tech. Apple has also announced that any compensation payment it receives in a lawsuit from NSO will also go to these organizations.
In response to Apple’s lawsuit, the NSO Group said it had not received any information on the matter. NSO develops software for law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies that is used daily to save lives. The lives of thousands around the world have been saved thanks to the use of NSO technologies. Pedophiles and terrorists can operate retroactively in technology cities of refuge, and we provide governments with the legal tools to combat this. NSO will continue to act for the truth. “
To read Apple’s full lawsuit against NSO – click here.
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A difficult year and another huge lawsuit
The last month has been one of the hardest for the cyber company, whose year has not been amazing in the first place. As mentioned earlier this month, the United States put NSO on its blacklist – including companies that “endanger US national security.” Along with NSO, another Israeli cyber company entered the list – Candiro. 10 days after this announcement, and only two weeks after he took over as NSO CEO, Itzik Benvenisti announced that he was leaving the company.
And if that’s not enough, yesterday the credit rating agency Moody’s announced that the Israeli cyber company is facing insolvency due to debts of half a billion dollars that it has, along with a high cash burning rate. This cash-burning rate is likely to continue, and perhaps even strengthen, as the company can no longer sell its products in the U.S. due.
Earlier this year, a major investigation was launched against NSO, called the “Pegasus Project”, which revealed part of the extent of the alleged use of the powerful surveillance tool of Israeli society. The investigation revealed that the tool was used to monitor journalists, government employees in various countries and even French President Emmanuel Macron. According to a report last night in the MIT Technology Review, the same Macron considered purchasing Pegasus for the security forces in his country – but the move was shelved after the tracking was discovered with the help of the tool.
Apple is not the first technology giant to sue NSO, and another lawsuit is currently being filed against the Israeli company that Meta (formerly Facebook) filed against it, claiming that it is behind the development of a serious security breach that was discovered on WhatsApp in 2019. A security breach that allegedly allowed Pegasus to be installed on people’s devices without their knowledge. Alongside Meta are several other technology giants in this trial, including Microsoft, Google and Cisco. Microsoft President Brad Smith stepped up and called the NSO and other offensive cyber companies “21st century mercenaries.”
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