Apple jobs sued NSO Group and its parent company on Tuesday, alleging that the Israeli corporation broke a federal anti-hacking statute by providing powerful software that clients used to spy on Apple users.
The case, filed in federal court in California, claims that NSO’s spyware, known as Pegasus, and other infections have cost Apple money and property, as well as infringed on Apple users’ human rights. “To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” Apple said in a statement.
NSO Group did not respond to the facts of the complaint in a statement released Tuesday, instead stating that its technology saves lives. According to the firm, NSO Group provides “lawful instruments” to assist governments in combating pedophilia and terrorism.
While the NSO Group has always claimed that their software jobs are exclusively sold to approved customers for law enforcement and counterterrorism purposes, experts have long suspected that Pegasus has been used to monitor dissidents and human rights advocates In September, researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab claimed that an unnamed party was spying on a Saudi activist using Pegasus and weakness in Apple’s operating system.
The case is the latest setback for NSO Group, which has long been accused of conducting business with authoritarian governments by cybersecurity experts and human rights organizations. According to researchers, the firm’s simple malware is capable of eavesdropping on a phone’s communications and accessing other sensitive data on the device.
NSO Group was listed to the US Commerce Department’s so-called “entity list” this month, effectively prohibiting the company from purchasing software components from US vendors without a license. Commerce accused NSO Group and another Israeli firm, Candiru, of selling spyware to foreign governments who “maliciously targeted” journalists, diplomatic employees, and activists.
In a statement at the time, NSO Group said it was “dismayed by the decision given that our technologies support US national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and thus we will advocate for this decision to be reversed.”
“We look forward to presenting the full information regarding how we have the world’s most rigorous compliance and human rights programs that are based [on] the American values we deeply share,” according to the statement, “which already resulted in multiple terminations of contacts [sic] with government agencies that misused our products.”
Candiru was unavailable for comment at the time. Apple is at least the second big US IT company jobs to file a lawsuit against NSO Group. In 2019, Facebook (now known as Meta) filed a lawsuit against NSO Group for allegedly aiding the hacking of 1,400 WhatsApp phones.
NSO Group has refuted Facebook’s allegations and attempted to stop the case from proceeding. However, a US appeals court ruled earlier this month that the action may proceed. Apple said it would contribute $10 million, plus any damages from the lawsuit, to “organizations pursuing cyber-surveillance research and advocacy.“. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from NSO Group, as well as “compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”
Source: CNN Business
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