A new database released by Amnesty International and partner organizations reveals that Android and iPhone spyware sold by NSO Group is linked to state terror attacks in multiple countries.
The NSO Group (founded in 2010), uses zero-day exploits to develop spyware to infect both iPhone and Android smartphones. The spyware allows users to read text messages and emails, monitor contacts and calls, track locations, collect passwords, and even switch on the smartphone’s microphone to record meetings.
Zero-day exploits discovered in iOS can be worth big money on the black market, with the Israel-based NSO Group buying many of them for its Pegasus spyware. Pegasus is capable of silently collecting iCloud data from a victim’s iPhone.
The company says that it only sells Pegasus to governments, but critics say that these include countries with records of human rights abuses.
Bloomberg reports on the new database:
A new research database from human rights groups accuses Israeli company NSO Group Ltd. of providing technology to governments that has been used to snoop on dozens of journalists, activists and lawyers and alleges that the product is linked to acts of violence including break-ins, harassment, intimidation and murder […]
A new database released on Saturday by Amnesty International, Citizen Lab and Forensic Architecture documents more than 60 cases in which NSO’s spyware has been used to target dissidents and government critics from countries including Rwanda, Togo, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Morocco and India
The new database by the human rights groups, titled “Digital Violence: How the NSO Group Enables State Terror,” is based on an analysis of legal files, interviews with alleged victims, export licenses, news reports and procurement records.
The rights groups allege that government use of NSO spyware is “consistently entangled with a spectrum of physical violations,” including arrests, assaults, and even murder, in the case of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose associates were allegedly targeted by the Saudi’s use of Pegasus prior to his assassination at the hands of Saudi government operatives in October 2018. NSO has denied that its technology was used to target Khashoggi.