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31 Okt 2019

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai & Joseph Cox, VICE

NSO Group allegedly more involved in hacking targets than previously believed based on documents revealed through lawsuit

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"How NSO Group helps countries hack targets," 31 Oct 2019

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, filed a lawsuit against NSO Group in a California court... NSO makes Pegasus, a surveillance product that hacks cellphones and is used by government agencies around the world to intercept and read data on the hacked devices. WhatsApp alleges that NSO was sending malware to take control of phones via WhatsApp and was using Facebook infrastructure as part of its hacking campaign... NSO provides hacking as a streamlined service, which means a lot of the actual tech is in the company’s own control, and NSO can offer hands-on assistance to the government employees who use it... NSO has maintained that it merely sells tools to governments and that it does not have specific knowledge of who its clients hack... The level of support NSO gives customers depends on how much the customer pays... [and] offers four tiers of support... The NSO staff may not press the Enter key to actually hack the target, but they are involved in essentially every other step of the process, according to the sources.

... A company spokesperson [said] “Under no circumstances does NSO operate the systems that are licensed to our customers; to do so would violate many laws and regulations, as well as our own policies. NSO’s products are only provided to intelligence and law enforcement agencies after a strict licensing and vetting process, and after training the clients use the system on their own for preventing and investigating terror and serious crime.”

Part of the following timelines

WhatsApp sues Israeli cyber surveillance company NSO Group, accusing it of hacking the phones of human rights activists & journalists

NSO Group lawsuit (re hacking WhatsApp users)