NSO Group: Phones Of Several US Diplomats Apparently Hacked With Pegasus Software

With the Pegasus spying software, the iPhones are said to have been spied on by employees of the US State Department. The Israeli manufacturer is investigating the allegation.

The iPhones of at least nine employees of the US State Department have apparently been hacked by an unknown attacker using the controversial espionage software Pegasus from the Israeli developer NSO Group. The Reuters news agency reported, citing four people familiar with the matter.

The hacks therefore occurred in the past few months. Affected are US employees either based in Uganda or people who have dealt with the affairs of the East African country. 

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According to Reuters, this is the largest known use of NSO technology against US agents.

It is apparently unclear who carried out the cyber attacks. The NSO Group said they had no evidence of the use of their software. However, the relevant accounts have been blocked and internal investigations have been carried out on the basis of the reports. 

If our investigation shows that these actions actually took place with the tools from NSO, this customer will be permanently terminated and legal action will be taken

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According to insiders, the iPhone manufacturer Apple informed US employees and other victims in several states about the attacks. The name of the manufacturer of the espionage software used was not mentioned. Apple had sued NSO a few days ago, stating that Pegasus had been used against US Apple users.

Pegasus has been the subject of criticism for a long time

NSO has emphasized several times in the past that it only sells its products to government law enforcement and intelligence customers to help them monitor security threats. However, one is not directly involved in monitoring operations.

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The Ugandan embassy in Washington did not comment on the Reuters report when asked. An Apple spokesman also declined to comment. The US State Department also did not comment on the alleged spying and instead referred to the recent decision by the Department of Commerce to make it more difficult for US companies to do business with the NSO Group. 

Pegasus has been the subject of criticism for a long time. In July, Chancellor Angela Merkel called for sales restrictions for the surveillance program.

The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has also warned against him. NSO Group's software had been used multiple times in the past to spy on government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics and embassy workers.

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A senior US government official told Reuters that the threat to US personnel overseas is one of the reasons the government is cracking down on companies like NSO and is starting a new global discussion about espionage limits. 

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