NSO Pegasus spyware has been used by at least five EU countries, the company admits. The admission was made as part of a European investigation into the impact of Pegasus, with an interim report now published.
It’s likely the true figure is higher, with the company promising to provide a “more concrete figure”…
What You Should Know About NSO Pegasus Spyware
NSO Group makes spyware called Pegasus, which is sold to government and law enforcement agencies. The company buys so-called “zero-day” security vulnerabilities (those unknown to Apple) from hackers, and its software is capable of mounting clickless exploits – where no user interaction is required by target.
In particular, simply receiving a particular iMessage – without opening it or interacting with it in any way – can allow an iPhone to be compromised, with personal data exposed.
Prime Ministers, US State Department officials, senior EU officials, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists are among those whose iPhones have been hacked by Pegasus.
The US government banned the importation and use of Pegasus, depriving the company of its most lucrative customer base: US law enforcement. Apple added to the pressure by suing the company and alerting owners of infected iPhones.
NSO claims to be cautious in approving customers, but few believe that, and the company’s CEO wanted to tear up even the claimed rules under which it operated.
Used by at least five EU countries
Policy last admission reports.
Israeli spyware firm NSO Group told European lawmakers on Tuesday that at least five EU countries had used its software and that the company had terminated at least one contract with an EU member country following the abuse of its Pegasus surveillance software.
Speaking to the European Parliament committee investigating the use of spyware in Europe, NSO Group General Counsel Chaim Gelfand said the company had “made mistakes”, but that it had also passed up a huge amount of revenue, voiding contracts since the abuse happened. light […]
At least five EU countries have used NSO’s tool, Gelfand said, adding that he would get back to MPs with a “more concrete figure”.
NSO claims it wants an agreed international standard on government use of spyware.
Year-long investigation of Pegasus
We are three months into a European Pegasus investigation, which is expected to last a year. An interim report has been released, explaining how the spyware works and highlighting key concerns.
Pegasus is only provided to governments, but there are concerns that governments may misuse the software to spy on their political opponents. It recently emerged that Belgium’s EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders was the target of the software.
In addition to a Council of Europe investigation, the European Parliament is also investigating Pegasus. Parliamentarian Peter Omtzigt has released the first results of the investigation under his direction, so that citizens and politicians can consult them. Omtzigt doesn’t have much power to compel governments to respond, but that’s not a problem, he says. “The mere fact of exposing what happened, of clarifying the facts, is of great value for public and political debate in Europe.” (source: rtlnieuws.nl).
The report provides a technical description of the Pegasus spyware and analyzes the impact it may have on human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Furthermore, the report highlights the crippling effect that the Pegasus spyware has or could have on other human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to dignity, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and even the physical and psychological integrity of an individual.
9to5Mac’s take on NSO Pegasus spyware
NSO has no credibility. It doesn’t matter what the company admits or doesn’t admit: it’s dithered and lied enough times that nothing it says can be believed.
Nor can governments be trusted to tell the truth about the covert surveillance methods they employ. The smart money would be on Pegasus having been used by just about every country on the planet.
So while the Interim Report is a useful document to help politicians understand just how nasty the NSO Pegasus spyware is, the only way things will change is if the use of the spyware is banned internationally and that the company is bankrupt.
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