NSO Group CEO says law-abiding citizens have 'nothing to be afraid of'

Posted:
in General Discussion
The CEO of NSO Group, whose spyware tools have reportedly been used to target journalists and activists, says that people who aren't criminals shouldn't be afraid of being surveilled.

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider


Shalev Hulio, 39, recently spoke to Forbes after investigations indicated that NSO Group's Pegasus spyware was used by authoritarian governments to hack and surveil the mobile devices of world leaders, high-profile journalists, and activists.

NSO Group says that it sells its tools to governments to help them catch serious criminals like terrorists or gangsters. However, Hulio admitted that it can't control what governments ultimately do with the tools. "We are selling our products to governments. We have no way to monitor what those governments do," he said.

Hulio did note that NSO Group has mechanisms in place to detect when abuse happens so that the company can "shut them down." He says that NSO Group has "done it before and will continue to do so. On the other hand, he said that NSO Group shouldn't be responsible for government misuse.

Additionally, Hulio said that the average smartphone has nothing to worry about. While NSO Group's spyware can break into the latest iPhones running up-to-date software, often without any action from the user, it's only aimed at criminals.

"The people that are not criminals, not the Bin Ladens of the world-- there's nothing to be afraid of. They can absolutely trust on the security and privacy of their Google and Apple devices," Hulio said.

Reports that NSO Group's Pegasus spyware was being misused first surfaced earlier in July after a monthlong investigation by 17 media organizations. Some of the alleged targets of the spyware include French President Emmanuel Macron, who has opened an investigation into the case.

In some cases tracked by the investigation, Pegasus was used to covertly surveil activists and journalists critical of governments. The governments of India and Mexico, for example, in hot water for allegedly using Pegasus to surveil opposition politicians, activists, and reporters.

Hulio likened NSO Group to an automaker. If a drunk driver hits someone, it's their fault and not the car manufacturer's. Hulio also claimed that NSO's tools have been used to stop more than 15 terrorist attacks and arrest hundreds of dangerous criminals. However, since he couldn't talk specifics, he didn't offer any detail or proof.

This is not the first time that a NSO Group tool has been allegedly abused. In 2020, reports suggested that Pegasus had been used to spy on 37 journalists working for Al Jazeera.

If an attacker successfully infects a device with the Pegasus software, it would allow them to extract virtually any data they wanted from it. Governments reportedly used zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple's iMessage and Apple Music to infect devices.

Apple has condemned the attacks, stating that it continues to "work tirelessly to defend all our customers."

Read on AppleInsider
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,640member
    Heard that BS before. Just trust us that it won't be used against law abiding citizens. Same thiing the FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS, and every other government agency in the world says. 
    hailthehamsterdysamoriahammeroftruthlordjohnwhorfinwilliamlondonhcrefugeebaconstangAlex_Vcolumbiapulseimages
  • Reply 2 of 35
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,251member
    Just like Jamal Kashoggi had nothing to be afraid of? 

    Bullshit 
    dysamoriahammeroftruthlordjohnwhorfincaladaniansgs46mknelsonwilliamlondonRayz2016hcrefugeelkrupp
  • Reply 3 of 35
    Do you think this man has any self awareness into his own lies? You have nothing to worry about, nothing to see here everyone. Never mind that people face ruin simply for having an opinion that some may see as controversial. That’s often based on what they said in public and frequently from years ago. 
    Just think of the influence you’d have over someone if you could enjoy their most private thoughts. Software such as this should only be used in specific limited circumstances and with a court order on each occasion. Breaches of that should result in fines and or imprisonment for NSO executives. 
    baconstangAlex_Vgilly33CluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 35
    As long as I can have a kill switch on him while he surveys me. If he’s not doing anything wrong, he shouldn’t have to worry.
    jtydibbleAlex_Vgilly33FileMakerFellerCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 35
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,716member
    Well if there was any question that NCO is one of the bad guys, this should settle it. 
    dysamoriacaladanianbaconstangAlex_VFileMakerFellerCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 35
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,429member
    Ah the old authoritarian excuse of “obey and you’ll be fine... (also, don’t question authority or defend those who’ve been abused by the system).”

    Authoritarian-financed corporation says you’re fine, but they’re not responsible if you’re not, in fact, fine; after all, they can’t stop their authoritarian customers from “misusing” a spying tool they’ve sold to them for spying purposes.

    🙄
    caladanianjtydibblehcrefugeemattinozbaconstangAlex_VFileMakerFellerCluntBaby92jony0
  • Reply 7 of 35
    There is something in this logic that doesn’t add up:

    "We are selling our products to governments. We have no way to monitor what those governments do,"

    average smartphone has nothing to worry about”

    there's nothing to be afraid of. They can absolutely trust on the security and privacy”

    Reports that NSO Group's Pegasus spyware was being misused”

    was used to covertly surveil activists and journalists critical of governments”

    surveil opposition politicians, activists, and reporters”

    But either way, in the end “it’s their fault” and “
    NSO Group shouldn't be responsible”. So in essence, none of this actually needs to make sense or be logical.
    jtydibbleAlex_Vdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 35
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 832member
    Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

    Corollary: If you get to see into my glass house, I get to see into yours.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 35
    maltzmaltz Posts: 275member
    The problem with that argument is that in an authoritative regime being "law abiding" isn't something that's really even possible to achieve.  Criminal activity is defined by whim, and the best you can do is not rise to the level that someone takes notice of you and disapproves in some way.  In some cases, that means an anonymous report (or, now, data mining) that makes you disappear one day without ever even knowing what you did.  If you even did anything at all, and weren't just the type that they thought might.  It sounds like dystopian fiction - but for billions of people, that's everyday life.

    Indeed, even in the "free" countries, you might be surprised at how many crimes - even felonies - the average person unwittingly commits during their lifetime.  It's just that most aren't detected and/or prosecuted.

    DAalsethAlex_Vdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 35
    It should go without saying that "but you're not the target of our spying so why worry" does not actually protect your privacy.
    williamlondonrcfaAlex_VdysamoriaFileMakerFellerCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 35
    TerryLDTerryLD Posts: 1member
    Did they create a monster they can’t control? This software should not exist. Period. Hope Apple can permanently patch those holes. 

    edited July 23 williamlondonrcfabaconstangAlex_Vdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 35
    "We are selling our products to governments. We have no way to monitor what those governments do," he said.

    Hulio did note that NSO Group has mechanisms in place to detect when abuse happens so that the company can "shut them down." He says that NSO Group has "done it before and will continue to do so. On the other hand, he said that NSO Group shouldn't be responsible for government misuse.
    So which is it, Hulio? Do you have a means of monitoring what governments do, or don't you?
    rcfabaconstangAlex_Vgilly33dysamoriaFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 35
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,511member
    Everyone here is opposing the company. That's an easy position to argue. I'm going to take up the challenge and try to defend the company. And so, I have two questions:

    1. Does their software violate any US law?
    2. Does their software violate the Apple App Store development agreement? https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ ;

  • Reply 14 of 35
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,724member
    The CEO of NSO Group, whose spyware tools have reportedly been used to target journalists and activists, says that people who aren't criminals shouldn't be afraid of being surveilled.
    I have suspicion that anyone who says this is an actual psychopath.
    TerryLDmuthuk_vanalingamrcfabaconstangAlex_VdysamoriaFileMakerFellerCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 35
    JonGJonG Posts: 15unconfirmed, member
    "Law abiding..."

    And which countries laws would these be?  North Koreas?
    williamlondonrcfabaconstangAlex_VdysamoriaCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 35
    MplsP said:
    Just like Jamal Kashoggi had nothing to be afraid of? 

    Bullshit 

    The Washington Post had a story a couple of days ago about a daughter of Dubai's ruthless ruler, who was desperately trying to get away from her dad. Left behind her phone and everything, but apparently some of her contacts also got surveilled via NSO and she was hauled kicking and screaming from her escape boat. Her elder sister had disappeared years earlier after being captured during an escape attempt. They sure must have been dangerous criminals.
    williamlondonhcrefugeercfabaconstangAlex_VdysamoriaCluntBaby92watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 35
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,168member
    Did they create a monster they can’t control? This software should not exist. Period. Hope Apple can permanently patch those holes. 

    If NSO isn't selling access to Android and iOS devices there's at least two more companies, probably more, offering the same type of services and happy to fill the gap for them.

    EDIT; I suppose mentioning others would have helped. LOL

    There's Gamma Group with Finfisher, Hacking Team's Remote System, Intellexa with an assortment of surveillance tools (and partners), Ability and ULIN, Verint with Skylock, and...
    Gosh far more than two. 
    edited July 23 baconstangAlex_VdysamoriaFileMakerFellerjony0
  • Reply 18 of 35
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 909member
    No. This is bullshit. This is like saying that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission—which in fact, it isn’t. It’s simply a rationalization for doing something that is legally (or morally) wrong, then saying “oops, my bad.”  No real accountability. 

    This is the mentality that seeks to loosen privacy restrictions when, the opposite should be mandated by law—get a court order then get access to the alleged information. 
    Alex_Vdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 35
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,716member

    Everyone here is opposing the company. That's an easy position to argue. I'm going to take up the challenge and try to defend the company. And so, I have two questions:

    1. Does their software violate any US law?
    2. Does their software violate the Apple App Store development agreement? https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/ ;

    Really, both points are irrelevant. 
    I can point to a lot of things that don’t violate US law that are just wrong.
    As this doesn’t go through Apple’s Store it is not subject to Apples rules. 
    williamlondonhcrefugeebaconstangAlex_Vtommikeledysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 35
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 1,014member
    Hulio would apparently be fine with this statement: "If you have a reason to object to the government placing one of their cameras in your bedroom then you must be some sort of criminal. The government has controls in place to ensure that the video being monitored is not abused and the cameras are only used during their investigations."
    Alex_Vdysamoriawatto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.