Apple (Apple) filed a lawsuit against Israel’s NSO Group and its parent company, demanding that the other party be held responsible for the surveillance of Apple users.
Apple claims that NSO Group used spyware (software) called “Pegasus” to invade iPhone users. The lawsuit seeks to prohibit NSO Group from further using Apple’s products and services to harm individuals. Apple also applied for a permanent injunction. NSO Group is prohibited from using any Apple software, services or devices.
NSO Group completely denies Apple’s allegations, saying that the company only provides relevant software to the military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies of countries with “good human rights records.”
The “Pegasus” software is alleged to be able to invade iPhone and Android devices, allowing software operators to extract the victim’s mobile phone text messages, photos and emails, record the content of the call, and secretly activate the phone’s microphone and camera.
NSO Group stated that the software tools are designed for terrorists and criminals. But it is also allegedly used to target human rights defenders, politicians and journalists.
However, earlier this month, U.S. officials put the company on a trade blacklist, saying that the software “enables foreign governments to carry out cross-border repression, saying this is an authoritarian government’s approach to dissidents, journalists, and activists.”
Before Apple filed the lawsuit, other technology companies also made relevant criticisms, including Microsoft, Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook), Google’s parent company Alphabet and Cisco Systems. In a blog post, Apple stated that it holds NSO Group and its parent company OSY Technologies “responsible for monitoring and targeting Apple users.”
The article also said: “In order to prevent further abuse and harm to its users, Apple will also seek a permanent injunction prohibiting the NSO Group from using any Apple software, services or equipment.”
In the lawsuit filed in the District Court of Northern California, Apple stated that NSO’s tools were used in “a well-designed plan to target and attack Apple users in 2021.” “U.S. citizens have been monitored by spyware produced by NSO. , And it is indeed used across national borders.”
Apple said that NSO Group also forged more than 100 Apple ID user credentials to attack Apple systems. The technology giant claims that its server has not been hacked, but NSO abused and manipulated the server to attack Apple users.
Apple also alleged that NSO Group was directly involved in providing consulting services for spyware. However, NSO insists that it only sells its tools to customers.
Apple continued to state that it was forced to engage in an ongoing arms race with NSO, stating that the Israeli company “continuously updates their malware and vulnerabilities to overcome Apple’s own security upgrades.” The iPhone maker said it will donate $10 million to the network surveillance research team and any losses recovered in the lawsuit, including the Citizens Laboratory of the University of Toronto where the NSO attack was discovered for the first time.
However, the NSO Group responded that “Thousands of lives have been saved all over the world because of its customers’ use of NSO Group’s technology.”
“Pedophiles and terrorists can move freely online through the use of technology. We provide the government with legal tools to combat them.”
NSO Group also said that it “will continue to advocate the pursuit of truth.”
BBC North America Technology Correspondent James Clayton (James Clayton)
Apple prides itself on its privacy. This is one of the main selling points of its product equipment. Therefore, it is not entirely surprising that a company that allegedly tried to bypass Apple’s security features might anger the giant.
But this is not the only reason for Apple to take a stand.
Not all hackers are considered equal: NSO Group has government customers, or, as Apple puts it, “state-sponsored” customers.
However, NSO claims that it only cooperates with organizations with a “good human rights record.” With this statement, the company claims to distinguish itself from hackers who engage in evil activities. But by suing NSO Group, Apple rejected the latter’s claims.
Apple is showing that it doesn’t matter who you are. If you are a group trying to invade Apple products, they will take action, regardless of your motivation.
However, there is a deeper level of content to think about: Apple believes that prosecuting a private company, rather than prosecuting the “government” that allegedly uses the technology, is politically easier to operate and easier for the public to accept.