NSO Group spyware used in hacks targeting U.S. State Department officials

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The iPhones of at least nine employees of the U.S. Department of State were hacked using the spyware developed by Israeli-based surveillance technology company NSO Group.

NSO Group spyware used to hack U.S. State Department officials.
NSO Group spyware used to hack U.S. State Department officials.


The hacks, which took place recently, targeted U.S. government officials based in Uganda or whose responsibility concerned the country, Reuters has reported. It isn't clear who launched the attacks.

NSO Group said Thursday that it didn't know about the intrusions, but added that it canceled the relevant accounts and would launch an investigation into the matter.

"If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO's tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place," said an NSO spokesperson.

The company added that it would cooperate with "any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have."

The attack represents the widest-known hack of U.S. officials using NSO-developed technology, which the U.S. government called a national security risk back in November.

NSO-developed software Pegasus has been used by malicious actors and government entities to covertly surveil journalists and human rights activists. In some cases, Pegasus exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in Apple technology like iMessage.

On Nov. 23, Apple filed a lawsuit against NSO Group seeking an injunction that would prevent the Israeli spyware company from using any Apple software, services, or devices.

In July, NSO CEO Shalev Hulio shot down concerns that his company's software could be used maliciously, stating that law-abiding citizens have "nothing to be afraid of."

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Color me shocked. 

    I am glad that Apple is trying to shut down this disgusting piece of intrusive spying. I sincerely hope the company succeeds in spades. 
    williamlondonrob53viclauyycAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    lkruppGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 20
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    Nah, this is Israel, so the scapegoat is Iran.
    lkruppGeorgeBMacAlex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    America always does blame somebody instead of improving our securities….we open our borders and everyone can comes in, we open our garages and for sure prying eyes and hands will get in. Ere how convenient 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,846member
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    williamlondondavenrob53mwhiteviclauyyclkruppGeorgeBMacapplguyrobababaconstang
  • Reply 6 of 20
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    Nah, this is Israel, so the scapegoat is Iran.
    Only when real facts became known. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 20
    DAalseth said:
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    China, Russia, Iran and N Korea are all legitimate government. Just the rest of the world don’t really think that way. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,545member
    viclauyyc said:
    DAalseth said:
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    China, Russia, Iran and N Korea are all legitimate government. Just the rest of the world don’t really think that way. 
    Not sure how you came to that conclusion.  I am not aware of any efforts to decertify diplomats from those countries, or to expel their ambassadors or anything at all of a similar nature.  

    The rest of the world may disagree with these countries and their actions but they don’t deny the governments of these countries being legit


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,713member
    chadbag said:
    viclauyyc said:
    DAalseth said:
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    China, Russia, Iran and N Korea are all legitimate government. Just the rest of the world don’t really think that way. 
    Not sure how you came to that conclusion.  I am not aware of any efforts to decertify diplomats from those countries, or to expel their ambassadors or anything at all of a similar nature.  

    The rest of the world may disagree with these countries and their actions but they don’t deny the governments of these countries being legit


    Interesting how you define legitimate. North Korea’s dictatorial regime may be de facto but it is certainly not legitimate.  It is a blood thirsty, repressive, genocidal regime, not a government by any definition of the word. The United States and most of the rest of the world have no diplomatic relations with this atrocity. Only China pays any attention and that’s because the Kim family is useful as a buffer in the East.
    williamlondonbaconstang
  • Reply 10 of 20
    lkrupp said:
    chadbag said:
    viclauyyc said:
    DAalseth said:
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    China, Russia, Iran and N Korea are all legitimate government. Just the rest of the world don’t really think that way. 
    Not sure how you came to that conclusion.  I am not aware of any efforts to decertify diplomats from those countries, or to expel their ambassadors or anything at all of a similar nature.  

    The rest of the world may disagree with these countries and their actions but they don’t deny the governments of these countries being legit


    Interesting how you define legitimate. North Korea’s dictatorial regime may be de facto but it is certainly not legitimate.  It is a blood thirsty, repressive, genocidal regime, not a government by any definition of the word. The United States and most of the rest of the world have no diplomatic relations with this atrocity. Only China pays any attention and that’s because the Kim family is useful as a buffer in the East.
    Chin becomes scapegoat again. But North Korea maintains diplomatic relations with 164 independent states.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_North_Korea
    fastasleep
  • Reply 11 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,319member
    lkrupp said:
    chadbag said:
    viclauyyc said:
    DAalseth said:
    So much for NCO promising to only sell to legitimate law enforcement agencies and governments. I guess to them legitimate means that the cheque cleared. 
    China, Russia, Iran and N Korea are all legitimate government. Just the rest of the world don’t really think that way. 
    Not sure how you came to that conclusion.  I am not aware of any efforts to decertify diplomats from those countries, or to expel their ambassadors or anything at all of a similar nature.  

    The rest of the world may disagree with these countries and their actions but they don’t deny the governments of these countries being legit


    Interesting how you define legitimate. North Korea’s dictatorial regime may be de facto but it is certainly not legitimate.  It is a blood thirsty, repressive, genocidal regime, not a government by any definition of the word. The United States and most of the rest of the world have no diplomatic relations with this atrocity. Only China pays any attention and that’s because the Kim family is useful as a buffer in the East.
    You are incorrect.  The majority of the countries of the world, notably bar France, Japan, South Korea and the USA, have official relations with North Korea: https://www.northkoreaintheworld.org/

    edited December 2021 fastasleepmuthuk_vanalingamdewme
  • Reply 12 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,037member
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    Nah, this is Israel, so the scapegoat is Iran.
    Only when real facts became known. 

    Alternative facts beat real facts in the right circles.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,037member
    What an ally!   We give them billions and they sponsor cybercrimes against us.  For years.

    Is that why our politicians love them so much?   They know where the skeletons are buried?
    ... Does anybody seriously believe that only a few low level state department phones were hacked?
    baconstangAlex_V
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Kuyangkoh said:
    China has been scapegoat for whatever happened. 
    America always does blame somebody instead of improving our securities….we open our borders and everyone can comes in, we open our garages and for sure prying eyes and hands will get in. Ere how convenient 
    Written like someone who clearly was born here. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Israel better shut this company down and seize the software, before the US does it for them 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,037member
    red oak said:
    Israel better shut this company down and seize the software, before the US does it for them 

    They've known about this company and what it did for years -- and looked the other way.  It's only in the last couple months that both Israel and the U.S. starting raising objections.   We can only guess at what happened or what changed.  One possibility is a new, somewhat less crazed, more sane administration in Israel.
    edited December 2021
  • Reply 17 of 20
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,762member
    People need to look at the 2017 DOE Sensitive Foreign Nations Control document to see Israel is listed. This means any DOE employee contact with anyone from this list must be reported. The DOE does not simply put names on the list, they have documented evidence to support why they're on the list. Israel has long been a country the USA looks at with suspicion unless, of course, they need something Israel produces. 

    Just because Israel is on the list doesn't mean the US government doesn't have purchase agreements with them. It wouldn't surprise me if the US government isn't the largest purchaser of NSO software and systems. I don't have any information on this, it's just a feeling. Unless you are on the inside (and I wasn't) you won't know the extent of the amount of business the US government does with companies like NSO.

    https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/02/f34/Part VII, SECTION J - List of Documents, Exhibits,and Other Attachments Attachment G_0.pdf

    GeorgeBMacAlex_VdewmeJaiOh81
  • Reply 18 of 20
    robabarobaba Posts: 216member
    But I didn’t expect the face eating monkey to eat MY FACE!!!!11

    GeorgeBMacwilliamlondonAlex_Vwatto_cobraJaiOh81
  • Reply 19 of 20
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,609member
    Probably MOSAD is involved with NSO like Netflix movie "The Operative".
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 20
    AppleInsider said:

    The hacks, which took place recently, targeted U.S. government officials based in Uganda or whose responsibility concerned the country, Reuters has reported.
    .
    .
    .
    In July, NSO CEO Shalev Hulio shot down concerns that his company's software could be used maliciously, stating that law-abiding citizens have "nothing to be afraid of." 

    Read on AppleInsider
    Well, that's in then.  These US officials must be engaged in some criminal or suspicious activity, since the NSO CEO assures us that if they were actual law abiding citizens, they would be safe.

    Nothing to see here, move along...

    /s
    edited December 2021 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobraJaiOh81
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