The US Government Blacklists Pegasus Spyware Group

For representational purpose
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For representational purpose

Highlights

The US companies cannot export their goods and services to NSO Group, the company that built Pegasus. The US Department of Commerce has ordered US companies not to sell their technology to NSO, citing reports that the group's Pegasus spyware is used against journalists, government officials, activists and others.

The US Department of Commerce has ordered US companies not to sell their technology to NSO, citing reports that the group's Pegasus spyware is used against journalists, government officials, activists and more. In its press release, the regulator says the company is added to the Entity List because its tool threatens "the rules-based international order" when it is sold to repressive foreign governments.

Pegasus is a program designed to infect targets without warning, allowing police and intelligence agencies to access a phone's text messages, photos, and passwords, all without a trace. The Washington Post reported in July that spyware could infect someone's phone with a single invisible text message - a target would not have to click a link or take any action for their fully updated phone to become infected.

NSO's Pegasus spyware was recently in the spotlight because of The Pegasus Project, a collection of journalists who revealed a list of names apparently related to spyware. That list included journalists, activists, heads of state, and others from around the world - people the NSO says its software shouldn't be used for targeting. The Pegasus Project also analyzed a handful of journalists' phones and found evidence that spyware had been installed on them, almost certainly by a government agency, as NSO says those are the only customers it will sell its software to and services.

Pegasus had also made headlines before this year. Journalists in Mexico were reportedly targeted with the tool, WhatsApp sued NSO for using an exploit in the messaging app to hack people's phones, and the FBI is said to have at least investigated the company in connection with the hacking of Jeff Bezos' phone.

The Commerce Department says that NSO is being added to the list of entities, restricting US companies from exporting products because the company "presents a significant risk of being or participating in activities that are contrary to national security or interests. of the foreign policy of the United States. "

This is likely to relate to US affairs outside of its actual borders - NSO has said its tool cannot be used to target US phone numbers, and the Commerce Department and Project Pegasus have not refuted that. done.

NSO isn't the only company added to the list of entities on Thursday. Candiru, another Israeli information technology company that sells spyware (reportedly used for similar purposes), is also blacklisted. The Commerce Department cited two more companies, one from Russia and one from Singapore, that it says are involved in the sale of hacking tools.


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