Dec 4, 2021
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli company NSO Group was used to hack the iPhones of 11 US diplomats in recent months, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing alerts from Apple to the impacted individuals.
The recent attacks were focused on US officials working in East Africa, the report said. The Pegasus spyware gives government clients the ability to steal files, listen to conversations and track the movements of the infected device, the report added.
While some of the targeted individuals included foreign service officers for the US State Departments, others included locals who worked for embassies. A source familiar with the development told the Wall Street Journal that the hacked phones had been linked to email addresses from the US State Department.
The White House National Security Council in a statement Friday said the US is acutely concerned that NSO Group’s software poses a serious counterintelligence and security risk to American personnel, which is why the administration placed several companies involved in the development and proliferation of these tools on the Commerce Department’s entity list.
In November, the US Department of Commerce included the NSO Group in its list of entities engaging in activities contrary to US national security. The group’s Pegasus spyware has purportedly been used to spy on the phones of about 50,000 targets, including politicians, businessmen, activists, journalists and opposition figures around the world.
Apple later in November launched a lawsuit against NSO Group for the surveillance and targeting of the company’s customers. They are also seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple software, services, or devices.