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Apple sues NSO Group over spyware

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The lawsuit, filed in a California federal court, alleges that NSO spyware, known as Pegasus, and other malicious programs have caused economic and property damage to Apple and violated the human rights of Apple users along the way. .
“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a standing court order to prohibit NSO Group from using any Apple software, service or device,” Apple said. he said in a statement.

In a statement Tuesday, NSO Group did not address the details of the lawsuit and instead said the company’s technology saves lives.

The NSO group provides “lawful tools” to help governments fight pedophiles and terrorists, the company said.

Although the NSO group has long maintained that it only sells its software to authorized users for law enforcement and the fight against terrorism, researchers have discovered for years evidence that Pegasus has been used to monitor dissidents. and human rights activists.

Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said so in September an unidentified part used Pegasus, and a vulnerability in Apple’s operating software, to spy on a Saudi activist.
Apple is releasing an urgent update to the iPhone software to address the critical vulnerability of spyware

The lawsuit is the latest setback for the NSO group, which cybersecurity analysts and human rights activists have long accused of doing business with repressive governments. According to the researchers, the company’s easy-to-use spyware is able to listen to a phone’s communications and access other sensitive data on the device.

The U.S. Department of Commerce this month added the NSO group to its so-called “entity list,” effectively prohibiting the company from purchasing software components from unlicensed U.S. vendors. Commerce accused NSO Group, and another Israeli company known as Candiru, of providing spyware to foreign governments that “used these tools to maliciously attack” journalists, embassy workers and activists.

In a statement at the time, NSO Group said it was “dismayed by the decision, as our technologies support U.S. national security interests and policies by preventing terrorism and crime, and we will therefore argue that this decision is revoked “.

“We look forward to presenting the full information on how we have the most rigorous human rights compliance programs in the world [on] the American values ​​we deeply share, “according to the statement,” which already led to multiple termination of contacts [sic] with government agencies that misused our products. “

Candiru could not be reached for comment.

Apple is at least the second largest U.S. technology company to sue NSO Group. Facebook (now known as Meta) in 2019 sued NSO Group for allegedly facilitating the breach of 1,400 phones with the WhatsApp messaging app.

NSO Group has denied the allegations made by Facebook and has tried to prevent the case from moving forward. But a U.S. appeals court this month ruled the lawsuit could continue.

Apple said it would contribute $ 10 million, plus lawsuit damages, to “organizations conducting cyber surveillance and advocacy.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from NSO Group, as well as “compensatory damages in an amount that must be demonstrated at trial.”

NSO Group is just one of several companies that sell specialized hacking tools to get into different types of cell phones.

In their lawsuit, Apple’s lawyers reflected on what he called an “ongoing arms race” between Apple engineers and the NSO group’s code writers.

“While Apple is developing solutions and improving the security of its devices, defendants are constantly updating their malware and exploits to overcome Apple’s security updates,” the complaint states.

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