June 26, 2022

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Pegasus spyware is used by at least 5 EU countries reports say

The Israeli firm NSO Group told European lawmakers at least five EU countries have used its software and the firm has terminated at least one contract with an EU member country following abuse of its Pegasus surveillance software.

Pegasus spyware has been used by at least five EU countries, admits the company. The admission was made as part of a European investigation into the impact of Pegasus, with an interim report now published.

Speaking to the European Parliament’s committee looking into the use of spyware in Europe, NSO Group’s General Counsel Chaim Gelfand said the company had “made mistakes,” but that it had also passed up a huge amount of revenue, canceling contracts since misuse had come to light.

“We’re trying to do the right thing and that’s more than other companies working in the industry,” Chaim Gelfand, the company’s general counsel, and chief compliance officer said.

The true number is likely higher, with the company promising to provide a ‘more concrete number’.

Earlier this February, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) called for a ban on the development and the use of commercial spyware in the region, stating that the technology’s “unprecedented level of intrusiveness” could endanger users’ right to privacy.

EU lawmakers launched the inquiry after revelations that the spyware is widespread in Europe and has been used against some of the bloc’s most prominent leaders, including Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and political groups in Spain, Poland and Hungary.

Infections are typically achieved using one-click attacks wherein targets are tricked into clicking on a link sent via messages on iMessage or WhatsApp, or using zero-click exploits that require no user interaction.

NSO has zero credibility. It doesn’t much matter what the company does or doesn’t admit to: it has prevaricated and outright lied enough times that nothing it says can be believed.

NSO Group, founded in 2010, has long maintained it only supplies the software to government customers only for tackle terrorism, drug trafficking, and serious crime, but reports have shown widespread misuse of the software to keep tabs on political opponents, critics, activists, journalists, lawyers across the world.

So while the interim report is a useful document to help politicians understand just how nasty NSO Pegasus spyware is, the only way anything will change is if the use of the spyware is banned internationally, and the company is put out of business.