Apple sues NSO Group over Pegasus spyware

Angela Lang / CNET

Apple said on Tuesday it had filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, the Israel-based cybersecurity company behind the Pegasus spyware which was discovered on the phones of activists, journalists and executives earlier this year.

To protect its users from “further abuse and harm,” Apple is seeking a permanent injunction to bar NSO Group from using iPhone maker hardware, software or devices, Apple said in a statement. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California, says it also seeks to remedy what it claims to be “gross violations” by the NSO Group of US federal and state laws.

“Private companies that develop state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous,” Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, said in a statement. “While these cybersecurity threats affect only a very small number of our customers, we take any attack against our users very seriously. “

In September, Apple released security updates for its iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Mac computers to close a vulnerability that was allegedly exploited by NSO’s invasive spyware Pegasus. The security patch stems from research by a public interest cybersecurity group called Citizen Lab, which revealed that a Saudi activist’s phone was infected with Pegasus.

Apple said on Tuesday that the so-called ForcedEntry exploit, which used a now-patched vulnerability, allowed NSO Group or its customers to break into a small number of Apple devices and install Pegasus spyware without their knowledge. the victims. Apple said it would notify people it discovered may have been targeted by the exploit.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Commerce Takes Action Against NSO Group, blocking the sale of American technology to the NSO group by placing the company on the list of government entities.

NSO Group, which licenses surveillance software to government agencies, says its Pegasus software helps authorities fight criminals and terrorists who take advantage of encryption technology to go dark.

NSO Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Apple’s lawsuit.

More soon.

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