Apple sues notorious surveillance company

Image for the article titled Apple is suing Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group

Photo: Jack Guez (Getty Images)

Apple has filed one lawsuit against Israeli surveillanceto-hire the company NSO Group over its Pegasus spyware that has been used to target Apple devices.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Northern District of California on Tuesday, would seek to ban the NSO Group from using Apple software or services and seek “redress for the NSO Group’s manifest violations of U.S. federal and state law,” Apple said in a blog post. The permanent injunction that Apple is searching would prohibit NSO Group from using Apple’s servers, devices, hardware, software, or other applications.

The company is also demanding an unspecified amount in compensation from the NSO Group, which Apple said it would provide to cybersecurity researchers. A denial of access to Apple products and services would mark a major, potentially business-wide blow to the NSO Group in the United States, which has been notorious for surveillance software capable of attacking Apple devices. This software has also raised public concern about Apple’s famously strong device security.

“Apple devices are the most secure consumer hardware on the market – but private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous,” Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said in a statement. “Although these cyber security threats only affect a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously and we are constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy of iOS to keep all our users safe.”

The decision to enter into a legal battle with the NSO Group comes just two months after Apple was forced to issue an emergency patch following a report from cybersecurity watchdog The Citizen Lab found a zero-day exploit that affected an estimated 1.65 billion Apple devices that had been vulnerable to NSA malware for several months. While the NSO Group advertises itself as a service to track down terrorists and other criminals, it has been criticized as its tools were revealed to have been used to track down journalists, activists, and even world leaders. Apple has also provided several previously unknown details about this exploitation, known as ‘FORCEDENTRY’, in its lawsuit.

And Apple not the only one taking pictures at NSO Group. Facebook (now Meta) filed its own lawsuit against the company back in 2019 over malware affecting WhatsApp users. So last week, US Department of Commerce officials added the monitoring company to its US Export Administration Regulation (EAR) “Device list“The addition, which puts NSO together with other companies that the government believes works against US interests, exposes it to trade restrictions that would require US-based companies to acquire a special license from the government if they wish to grant services or sell products to the sanctioned party.

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