CYBERSECURITY – According to surveys published this summer by 17 international media outlets, NSO’s Pegasus software has made it possible to spy on the smartphones of numerous personalities thanks to a computer breach. Apple has filed a complaint against the group.
“Apple devices are the most secure” in the consumer electronics market, wrote in a statement Craig Federighi, vice president of brand at apple, before adding: “But companies that develop spyware for governments have become even more dangerous”. This is why Apple announced on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint against NSO Group and asked the court to definitively ban the programs of this Israeli company on Apple devices and services.
NSO Group found itself in the center of the news this summer after investigations published by a consortium of 17 international media outlets, revealing that its Pegasus software would have made it possible to spy on the numbers of journalists, politicians, activists or business leaders from different countries, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
A computer breach since February 2021
“Even though these cybersecurity threats affect only a small number of our customers, we take all attacks against our users seriously.”, explained Craig Deferighi. In September, Apple had to urgently repair the computer loophole that Pegasus was able to exploit to infect iPhones, without users even having to click on trapped links or buttons, the technique usually used.
According to Citizen Lab researchers, who spotted the flaw, the controversial software had been using the vulnerability since at least February 2021. This University of Toronto cybersecurity organization had discovered that a Saudi activist’s iPhone had been infected via iMessage, Apple’s messaging system.
“Thousands of lives have been saved” according to NSO
In reaction to Apple’s decision, a spokesperson for NSO assured that “Thousands of lives have been saved around the world thanks to NSO Group technologies.” “Pedophiles and terrorists can flourish freely within the confines of the technological equipment at their disposal, and we are providing legal tools to governments to combat them. NSO Group will continue to fight for the truth.”, he added.
In early November, Washington added NSO Group to its list of banned companies. “The United States is committed to using export controls in an incisive manner to hold accountable companies that develop, commercialize or use technology for malicious purposes, that threaten the cybersecurity of members of civil society or government, dissidents, and organizations based here and abroad “, declared on this occasion the US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
An ethical charter “based on American values”
The Israeli group said “appalled” by this decision of the United States. According to a spokesperson for this company based in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, NSO has an ethics charter “rigorous, based on American values”.
“State-funded groups like the NSO Group are spending millions of dollars designing sophisticated surveillance technologies, without having to answer for the consequences. That has to change.”, for his part hammered the vice-president of Apple Craig Federighi.