With the American embargo against the NSO Group, the scandal reached a state unreliable by any party. Israel still rejects any involvement in the project in which dozens of people were subject to surveillance and infiltration.
The Israeli Business Group has been the most indisputable cyber spyware in 2021. The utility of NSO product, by the way, was against the interest of world society. NSO’s malware provided totalitarian nations a suppressive force against any opposition or critical voice.
Pegasus also served to spy on politicians, reporters, entrepreneurs, and human rights advocates. Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was murdered in Istanbul consulates, has been among the targets.
The perpetrators of the attacks are still unknown, while Israeli administration is at the center of focus. NSO Group has refuted their spyware’s role in monitoring Khashoggi or anyone in his relation, and has promised to investigate its clients. It also stated that it will assist any official investigations. Pegasus, Nevertheless, has been, and is, the subject of debate since years ago.
The Israeli NSO issued a “Transparency and Responsibility Report” before the Pegasus Project revelations. NSO said in the report that it had taken real actions to alleviate and avoid potential future cases of abuse trough their spyware.
However, two months ago, US government had taken a sharp decisive step against the Group. The US Commerce Department put the Israeli foundation on its “entities” list. The list is a blacklist that prevents NSO from accessing US software development applications. It was a serious and rare step by Washington against an Israeli company. According to a declaration from the Commerce Department, the White House charged NSO with “engaging in activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
NSO Group at the Precipice
The US government’s move shocked NSO, which claimed its technology “serve US national security activities and goals by avoiding terrorism and criminality,” in a statement at the time.
Earlier this month, the NSO was once again mired in dispute. According to Reuters, the Pegasus was used to infiltrate at least 9 American State Department workers. In result, a number of US congressmen wrote to the Treasury and State Dept demanding it to prosecute the Israeli firm and its company management.
Other sources also reported in later in the same month that NSO Group was considering closing down its Pegasus subsidiary. And, according to The Washington Post, the controversial spyware assisted in hacking the cellphone of a person in Jamal Khashoggi’s close relations few months before his assassination. a fresh extensive investigation by CitizenLab revealed the issue. Despite the fact that NSO continues to hit the headlines, it is not the only monitoring spyware company under American sights.
The Commerce Department added two more foreign malware businesses to its blacklist last month. The American senators pushed the government to ban UAE spyware firm DarkMatter, as well as European espionage firms Nexa Technology and Trovicor, earlier this month.
However, as the new year approaches, analysts believe the US government should do more to combat the spread of malware technology, both via official transfers and through underground market cyber-arms sellers.
Malware abuse is being addressed by the private sector too. According to a corporate declaration, Apple sued NSO Group and its parent business late last month to make it responsible for the monitoring and harassment of Apple consumers. Apple is also pursuing a protection order prohibiting NSO Group from utilizing any Apple product, resources, or device to avoid additional misuse and abuse of its users.