Apple has notified at least nine employees of the U.S. Department of State that they may have been targeted by state-sponsored spyware created by Israeli company NSO Group. That information comes from a Reuters report citing four people familiar with the matter.
The hacks – which took place over the last several months – were directed at U.S. officials either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning the East African country, two of the sources said.
A spokesperson for NSO Group told Reuters that it will investigate and take legal action against customers using its tools illegally if necessary.
“If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO’s tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place,” said an NSO spokesperson, who added that NSO will also “cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have.”
Apple last month filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, the firm that sells the Pegasus spyware tool known to be used by governments to hack iPhones used by activists, journalists, and criminals.
Apple also said it would contribute $10 million to organizations pursuing cyber-surveillance research and advocacy.
Pegasus is NSO Group’s best-known spyware tool, which the company claims was intended to be used against criminal activity but has instead been used against innocent groups and individuals.
Reports of the Pegasus spyware bring used against activists and journalists first surfaced in July. Pegasus is believed to have been used to infiltrate devices possibly since 2016.
Apple has said that iOS 15 includes new security protections and the Cupertino firm says it has not observed any evidence of successful remote attacks against devices running any iOS 15 version.