Cash-strapped Pegasus spyware developers wanted to sell to 'red-flag' countries

Posted:
in iOS edited June 2022
Expenses and loan repayments have hampered Pegasus developer NSO Group from the start, and even before US blacklisting, the company reportedly looked to sell the spyware to countries it knew would abuse it.




NSO CEO Shalev Hulio has previously insisted that law-abiding citizens have nothing to be afraid of from his company's Pegasus spyware. Nonetheless, Pegasus has been used to spy on EU officials, including the Spanish Prime Minister.

Now a new report from the Financial Times claims that at one point in 2021, the company was in extreme financial disarray, and CEO Hulio proposed a solution. He wanted to sell Pegasus to firms he reportedly described as risky.

Specifically, he proposed ignoring his own company's "elevated risk" descriptions of countries, and instead sell to them to get cash in quickly enough to pay salaries and address its debts.

Hulio is said to have suggested this when the independent Berkeley Research Group (BRG) had been brought in by investors whose equity fund held a majority stage in NSO. BRG's job was to close down the fund following separate issues.

"You are demanding that (BRG) blindly sanctions the sale of... Pegasus... to elevated risk customers without a thorough governance review," BRG lawyers wrote on December 13, according to the Financial Times. "Please note that in no circumstance is (BRG) prepared to do so."

BRG did, however, make a $10 million loan to NSO to cover its payroll. The loan was specifically made to an NSO subsidiary that makes a drone defense system, but it was used to make payroll.

It has been reported previously that the NSO Group's finances were such in December 2021 that it was considering killing off its Pegasus system. This followed Apple suing the company in 2021, though it reportedly also followed the FBI buying the spyware in 2019.

Subsequently, the US government blacklisted the NSO Group in late 2021. According to the Financial Times, the NSO has tried many times to argue its case with the Department of Commerce, but appears to have not yet managed to meet with officials.

"It is critical for direct policymaker engagement to provide a greater understanding of how our technologies work, the countless lives it has saved and the specific steps the company takes to prevent misuse and terminate contracts when misuse is determined to have occurred," the NSO told the publication.

Unspecified sources have told the Financial Times that the company is currently looking at what it calls a "phoenix plan." It may split the company into two, where the engineers and Pegasus software code would be in one entity.

If executed, NSO Group's riskier clients, the ones causing the US blacklist, would be separated from the rest of the firm.

While declining to comment directly on its attempting to gain waivers from the US government, the group also said that its systems are in "high demand." It says that the company employs a particularly thorough "due diligence process" over who it sells to.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    Evil is as evil does.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 10
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,783member
    As Sal Tassio said in The Godfather, “It’s only business.”.
    When NCO started having trouble I predicted they would just go underground and start selling to anyone. Looks like that’s exactly what they want to do. 
    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    OferJaiOh81watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    DAalseth said:

    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    No, that's not simply "Capitalism". That's amorality. And it exists in all economic systems. 
    Japheydewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    sconosciutosconosciuto Posts: 262member
    DAalseth said:

    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    No, that's not simply "Capitalism". That's amorality. And it exists in all economic systems. 
    also, guns don't kill people
    Oferwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,783member
    DAalseth said:

    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    No, that's not simply "Capitalism". That's amorality. And it exists in all economic systems. 
    The only difference between a drug gang and Amazon is degree. 
    Oferwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 599member
    DAalseth said:
    As Sal Tassio said in The Godfather, “It’s only business.”.
    When NCO started having trouble I predicted they would just go underground and start selling to anyone. Looks like that’s exactly what they want to do. 
    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    Just as I told you when you made the exact same post on another Mac oriented website, you screwed up the quote and misattributed it. You don’t look too cool right now. Maybe even foolish. Only someone trying to be your version of cool screws up quotes from one of the most quoted gangster scenes in cinema history.

    First, it's Tessio, not Tassio. Sal Tessio.

    Second, it was said by the Michael Corleone to Sonny Corleone, not by Sal Tessio. Tessio is in the room, but he did not say that. It was said slightly differently three times in that scene. Once by Tom Hagen, once by Sonny Corleone and then the more famous one, that is quoted, by Michael Corleone to Sonny when he questioned Michael about shooting the crooked cop McCluskey.

    Messing up Godfather quotes and misattributing them is a mortal sin. Doing twice via a copy/paste between websites is even more serious. The Godfather would be displeased.



    edited June 2022 muthuk_vanalingamrundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 744member
    "Back door only for the good guys."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,264member
    tommikele said:
    DAalseth said:
    As Sal Tassio said in The Godfather, “It’s only business.”.
    When NCO started having trouble I predicted they would just go underground and start selling to anyone. Looks like that’s exactly what they want to do. 
    Ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Capitalism in its purest form.
    Just as I told you when you made the exact same post on another Mac oriented website, you screwed up the quote and misattributed it. You don’t look too cool right now. Maybe even foolish. Only someone trying to be your version of cool screws up quotes from one of the most quoted gangster scenes in cinema history.

    First, it's Tessio, not Tassio. Sal Tessio.

    Second, it was said by the Michael Corleone to Sonny Corleone, not by Sal Tessio. Tessio is in the room, but he did not say that. It was said slightly differently three times in that scene. Once by Tom Hagen, once by Sonny Corleone and then the more famous one, that is quoted, by Michael Corleone to Sonny when he questioned Michael about shooting the crooked cop McCluskey.

    Messing up Godfather quotes and misattributing them is a mortal sin. Doing twice via a copy/paste between websites is even more serious. The Godfather would be displeased.



    Sorry to continue being off topic, but when Tessio knows that he is screwed, doesn't he tell Hagen something along the lines of "Tell Michael it was only business. I always liked him"? 

    Still, as you mentioned, the most famous version of that is by Michael.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    co-ordsco-ords Posts: 2member
    There is a special place in hell for these creeps!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,271member
    Are they asking for permission or forgiveness?
    watto_cobra
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