WhatsApp sues NSO Group for cyber espionage

After the security breach last May, which has so far affected approximately 1,400 mobile devices. WhatsApp conducted the research internally in collaboration with Citizen Lab, a group of computer security experts from the Cyber ​​Security Research Laboratory of Canada, WhatsApp discovered that the attackers were using NSO-related web servers.

That is how WhatsApp decided to file a lawsuit against the Israeli company NSO Group, claiming it was behind the massive WhatsApp attack. Facebook (WhatsApp's parent company) accuses NSO in federal court in San Francisco to facilitate hacking in 20 countries. Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are the only countries identified to date.

CitizenLab, for his part, he said that during his investigation he identified more than 100 cases of attacks abusive against human rights defenders and journalists in at least 20 countries around the world, derived from spyware from the NSO Group.

Facebook confirmed last May the presence of a flaw in the VoIP encrypted instant message stack. This vulnerability allowed remote code execution on Android or iOS smartphones to introduce spyware, Pegasus, developed by NSO Group.

The attacks go through the WhatsApp calling function without the intended users having to respond. Therefore, a simple failed call is enough to infect mobile.

With that you could even turn on a phone's camera and microphone Infected smartphone to capture activity near the phone and use the GPS function to track the location and movements of a target.

And we were able to link some WhatsApp accounts used during this malicious operation to NSO. Their attack was ultra sophisticated, but they couldn't completely erase their tracks, "says Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp.

At the time of the attack, as today after this formal charge, NSO denies it

"In the strongest possible terms, we challenge today's allegations and will vigorously fight them."

The sole purpose of the NSO is to provide technology to authorized government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them combat terrorism and serious crime. Our technology is not designed to be used against human rights activists and journalists, "said a company statement.

The company tries to explain that encrypted messaging platforms "are often used by networks of pedophiles, drug traffickers and terrorists to protect their criminal activity."

However, it is NSO who signs contracts with its clients, but the company maintains that «Any other use of our products other than the prevention of serious crimes and terrorism is an abuse, which it is prohibited in our contracts, in addition to that we act if we detect any misuse.

Outside the affected states, the May rift had also affected well-known television personalities, famous women who had been targeted by online hate campaigns, and people who had been victims of "attempted murder and death, as well as threats of violence. violence «, according to an investigation carried out by WhatsApp and Citizen Lab.

According to Scott Watnik, president of the cybersecurity law firm, this complaint could create a legal precedent.

The fact that one technological society publicly persecutes another is quite novel. These companies tend to avoid litigation so as not to reveal too much about their cybersecurity processes. The lawsuit seeks to prevent NSO from accessing or attempting to access WhatsApp and Facebook services and seeks unspecified damagess.

Israel's cyber espionage software has already been involved in a number of human rights abuses in Latin America and the Middle East. But also in a scandal in Panama and an espionage attempt by a London-based Amnesty International staff member.

If you want to know more about it, you can consult the original publication In the following link. 

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