Apple sues NSO Group in a bid to curb abuse of spyware by nations

Earlier this year it was discovered that spyware known as Pegasus had been spread far and wide. What was worrying was that the spyware was installed on Apple’s iPhones which are consider among the more secure smartphones.

Now Apple is suing the company behind the spyware, NSO Group, as well as the parent company Q Cyber Technologies.

The lawsuit, says Apple, is being launched to hold NSO Group accountable for the surveillance and targeting of its users. Furthermore, Apple is looking to get a permanent injunction against NSO Group which would ban the spyware maker from using any Apple software, services or hardware.

“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” said senior vice president of Software Engineering at Apple, Craig Federighi.

Apple goes on to explain that NSO Group used an exploit known as FORCEDENTRY (which has since been patched) to get onto a target’s iPhone. This was accomplished by creating an Apple ID and then sending malicious data to a target. The target wouldn’t even be aware that they had been compromised.

This exploit was discovered by Citizen Lab and as such Apple is throwing some money in the direction of organisations that conduct cybersurveillance research. The money amounts to $10 million as well as any damages it is awarded from the lawsuit against NSO Group.

It has not been a good month for NSO Group. Before this lawsuit was filed the US Department of Commerce placed the firm on its Entity List which forbids companies in the US from doing business with companies on that list.

The Department of Commerce justified its decision by stating that NSO Group developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments.

“These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent. Such practices threaten the rules-based international order,” the department said.

You can find Apple’s lawsuit filing in full here.




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