Apple has filed a lawsuit against Israeli spyware business NSO Group and its parent company for allegedly using a hacking tool to target iPhone users.
The Pegasus software from NSO can infect both iPhones and Android devices, giving operators access to texts, images, and emails, as well as record calls and discreetly activate microphones and cameras.
The NSO Group claims that its technologies are designed to track out terrorists and criminals.
However, it has been claimed that it has been used on activists, politicians, and journalists.
Pegasus is exclusively supplied to the military, law enforcement, and intelligence organizations from nations with excellent human-rights histories, according to NSO Group.
However, the firm was placed on a trade blacklist by US officials earlier this month, claiming that the software has “enabled foreign governments to conduct transnational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists”.
Apple’s move comes after criticism from Microsoft, Meta Platforms (previously Facebook), Alphabet (parent company of Google), and Cisco Systems.
Apple aims to make NSO Group and its parent company OSY Technologies “accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users”, the iPhone maker said in a blog post announcing the California lawsuit.
“To prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices,” the company said.
Apple takes pride in its privacy. It’s a big selling point for the company’s products.
So it’s not surprising that a corporation that reportedly tried to circumvent Apple’s security safeguards would enrage the company.
However, it isn’t the only reason Apple is taking a stand.
Hackers aren’t all created equal. NSO Group has government clients, or is “state-sponsored,” as Apple puts it.
NSO promises to exclusively partner with organizations that have a strong track record when it comes to human rights.
In this approach, the corporation has attempted to set itself apart from malevolent underground hackers.
Apple is ignoring this distinction by suing NSO Group.
Apple is implying that it doesn’t matter who you are if you’re attempting to hack into an Apple product; they’ll respond regardless of your motivations.
However, there’s a little more to it than that.
Apple will believe that suing a private firm rather than the governments that are purportedly employing the technology is easier and more politically acceptable.
NSO’s tools were used in “concerted efforts in 2021 to target and attack Apple customers”, Apple said in its complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, and added that “US citizens have been surveilled by NSO’s spyware on mobile devices that can and do cross international borders.”
To carry out its assaults, the NSO gang allegedly established over 100 false Apple ID user credentials, according to Apple.
The tech company said that its systems had not been hacked, but that NSO had abused and exploited them to launch attacks against Apple users.
Apple also claimed that NSO Group was actively involved in delivering malware consultancy services, although NSO claims that it only sells its products to customers.
Apple had been forced to get into a constant arms race with NSO, the iPhone maker said, as it argued that the Israeli company was “constantly updating their malware and exploits to overcome Apple’s own security upgrades”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)