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NSO Group spy software can no longer be used to hack British phones


An image for an article titled Notorious Spyware Firm claims that this will no longer help hacking British phones

Photography: LOIC VENANCE / AFP (Getty Images))

NSO Group, Israel’s notorious spyware vendor, will no longer allow its customers to hack UK citizens, sources close to the company said The Guardian this week. The changes have been “heavily coded” into the infamous NSO malware, Pegasus, and will prevent future targeting of UK phone numbers, sources said.

Such sudden changes are undoubtedly encouraged a recent British hacker scandal includes Princess Hayu bint al-Hussein, daughter of the King of Jordan and ex-wife of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. After leaving Dubai and fleeing to London in 2019, Hay’s phone was hacked several times on the orders of her ex-husband, Sheik Mohammed, while the former couple was in a battle for custody of their two children. Five of Hai’s associates were also hacked, including two of her lawyers. The case reappeared in public this week, when a British high court judge ruled that there was a hacker incident and it was NSO malware.

As a result, sources close to the spyware vendor now say changes made to the company’s software ensure that its customers will no longer be allowed to target UK-based phone numbers: “We are completely closed, hard coded into the system [Pegasus], to all our customers. In the middle of the night, we released a quick update that none of our customers can work on British numbers, ”said the source. said The Guardian. The update blocks hacking of a phone with the country code of the region: +44.

This is … well, if it’s true. However, it is unclear why the company did not just come out and make an official statement, instead of allowing unofficial sources to make claims to journalists.

The company suffered a strong storm of global criticism earlier this year after launch. “Pegasus Project“, An international collaboration of journalists and researchers that revealed the extent to which NSO spy software is used worldwide. The project was largely based on a list of about 50,000 phone numbers that researchers say represent “potential targets” for Pegasus surveillance. The list denied by the NSO is legitimate, contained the number of presidents, prime ministers and kings, among others. For years, the company claimed that its product was used only to track and monitor “terrorists” and other criminals, but Pegasus was always rediscovered on the devices of political activists, human rights lawyers, journalists, politicians and businessmen.

NSO Group it is also maintained for a long time that it does not allow the use of its malware against citizens of the United States – and that phones with a +1 country code cannot be hacked with its products. However, in January last year reported that the FBI “investigated the role of” NSOs “in possible hacking of American residents and companies.” It turned out that the investigation concerned the then Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose phone, according to reports, was personally hacked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, presumably for stealing intimate messages and photographs, such as pictures of a tech mogul’s dick. Was suspects at a time when NSO malware was a product used in the episode, although the company denied several times that it was involved.



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Naveen Kumar

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