US officials’ phones hacked with NSO Group spyware: Reuters

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According to the news agency report, the phones of at least nine US State Department employees were hacked by NSO Group spyware.

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The phones of at least nine US State Department employees were hacked using spyware from Israeli firm NSO Group, citing four unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

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The hacking targeted Apple-made iPhones of US officials based in Uganda or working on issues related to the country, Reuters reported on Friday.

The news agency said it could not determine who carried out the cyberattacks.

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The Israeli firm sparked outrage earlier this year after an investigation into international media outlets that its Pegasus spyware was used against journalists and activists in several countries by security forces and authoritarian governments.

NSO says it works with law enforcement agencies to track down criminals and “terrorists”.

But Apple filed a lawsuit against the Israeli company last month, accusing the company of using its Pegasus spyware to hack into its users’ devices. Apple also released a patch to fix vulnerabilities exploited by spyware.

NSO Group said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday that it had no indication that its tools were used, but canceled related accounts and would investigate based on the news agency’s investigation.

An NSO spokesperson said, “If our investigation shows that these actions have indeed occurred with NSO’s equipment, such customer will be permanently terminated and legal action will be taken.” We will have”.

The news agency’s report comes after US President Joe Biden’s administration banned NSO Group, among other firms, in early November, accusing it of enabling “international repression”.

In July, several Democratic congress member Calls for an investigation into reports of US citizens, including diplomats and aid workers, being affected by NSO’s activities. Legislators urged the Biden administration to “determine whether there is damage to America’s national security”.

NSO says its hacking tools can’t target US phone numbers beginning with country code +1, but Apple noted in its legal complaint last month that phones of US citizens, which “cross international borders” can and do”, have been hacked.

The Israeli company is also facing a lawsuit from instant messaging app, WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, formerly known as Facebook Inc.

A US appeals court ruled last month that WhatsApp could go ahead with its 2019 lawsuit against NSO, rejecting the company’s attempt to claim sovereign immunity because its clients are government agencies.

Officials at the Ugandan embassy in Washington did not comment on the hacking, Reuters said. An Apple spokesperson also declined to comment to the news agency, while a State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the intrusion, pointing to November’s decision to blacklist the firm.

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