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Apple has filed a lawsuit against the NSO group, a company known for selling Pegasus spy tools used by governments to hack iPhones used by criminals, journalists and activists.
Pegasus is the most famous spy tool of the NSO group, the one that was allegedly intended for use against criminal activities, but was misused against other innocent parties. In an attempt to prevent the NSO Group from continuing to provide Pegasus to its customers, Apple filed a lawsuit against both the group and its parent company on Tuesday.
Apple wants to hold the NSO Group responsible for overseeing some of Apple’s users. The filing also seeks a ban to prevent the NSO from using any Apple software, services or devices of any kind.
The lawsuit followed reports that Pegasus spy software was used against activists and journalists, who first appeared in July. A detailed investigation found that Pegasus has been used to infiltrate devices used by journalists, potentially since 2016.
Used against journalists, activists, academics, and government officials, some governments and agencies use a tool to question those who might be considered a potential danger.
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group are spending millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That must change,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s vice president of software engineering. “Apple devices are the most secure consumer hardware on the market – but private companies that develop state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous.”
“While these cybersecurity threats affect only a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously,” Federighi continued, “and are constantly working to strengthen security and privacy in iOS to keep all of our users for sure. “
Along with the application, Apple said it would contribute $ 10 million and indemnify the lawsuit to organizations involved in cyber surveillance research and advocacy.
Apple also assists Citizen Lab, a group that Apple praises along with Amnesty Tech in detecting and investigating intrusions and abuse of surveillance, by providing pro-bono technical, threat intelligence and engineering assistance for Citizen Lab research. Apple also offers the same help to other organizations in the same space.
Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert welcomed the lawsuit because he held the NSO Group responsible for their abuses and we hope that Apple will help bring justice to all those who have been sacrificed to the reckless behavior of the NSO Group.
Victims of the attack included human rights activists, lawyers, and journalists from high-profile media, including CNN, the New York Times, i Al Jazeera,. It is also reported that the data leak showed that Pegasus was being used by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to target the smartphones of people who were close to the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
After the discovery of exploitation, Apple worked on updating its operating systems, removing vulnerabilities and limiting Pegasus’ reach.
Apple’s file includes information about “Forcedentry,” an exploitation of a currently patched vulnerability used to attack a Pegasus installation device. The attack on Apple devices involved the creation of Apple IDs to send malicious data to the victim, which allowed Pegasus to be installed without knowing the target.
Apple emphasizes that although its servers have been “misused to deliver” data, the servers themselves have not been hacked or compromised by attacks.
“At Apple, we are always working to defend our customers from even the most complex cyber attacks,” said Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, Ivan Krstic. “The steps we are taking today will send a clear message: In a free society, arming powerful state-sponsored spyware against those who want to make the world better is unacceptable.
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