NSO Pegasus spyware is used in at least five EU countries

NSO Pegasus spyware has been used in at least five EU countries, the company admits. The admission was made as part of a European investigation into the effects of Pegasus and an interim report has now been released.

It is likely that the real figure is higher as the company promises to provide a “more specific figure”…

What you need to know about NSO Pegasus Spyware

The NSO Group produces spyware called Pegasus that is sold to government and law enforcement agencies. The company buys so-called zero-day security vulnerabilities (those unknown to Apple) from hackers, and its software is capable of installing zero-click exploits when the target requires no user interaction.

In particular, simply receiving a particular iMessage—without opening it or interacting with it in any way—can compromise your iPhone, revealing personal data.

Prime ministers, US State Department officials, senior EU officials, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists are among those whose iPhones have been hacked by Pegasus.

The US government banned the import and use of Pegasus, depriving the company of its most lucrative customer base: US law enforcement. Apple stepped up the pressure by suing the company and warning owners of infected iPhones.

The NSO claims to be careful when it comes to approving clients, but few people believe it, and the company’s CEO wanted to break even the stated rules by which it operated.

Used in at least five EU countries

Politico announces the latest admission.

Israeli spy company NSO Group on Tuesday told European lawmakers that at least five EU countries have used its software, and the firm has canceled at least one contract with an EU member state after abusing its Pegasus surveillance software.

Speaking before a European Parliament committee examining the use of spyware in Europe, NSO Group’s chief legal adviser Chaim Gelfand said the company “made mistakes” but it also forfeited a huge amount of revenue by terminating contracts as the abuse reached an easy level. […]

Gelfand said at least five EU countries have used the NSO tool, adding that it will return to MEPs with a “more specific number”.

The NSO says it wants an international standard for government use of spyware.

A multi-year Pegasus investigation

We have a three month European Pegasus investigation that is expected to last a year. An interim report has been released that explains how spyware works and outlines the main issues.

Pegasus is only shipped to governments, but there are concerns that governments are misusing the software to spy on their political opponents. It was recently revealed that Belgian European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders was targeted by the software.

In addition to the Council of Europe investigation, the European Parliament is also investigating Pegasus. MP Peter Omzigt has published the first results of the investigation under his leadership so that citizens and politicians can see them. Omtzigt doesn’t have much power to hold governments to account, but that’s not a problem, he says. “Simply exposing what happened, straight out reporting the facts goes a long way in public and political debate in Europe.” (source: rtlnieuws.nl).

The report provides a technical description of Pegasus spyware and analyzes its impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular the right to privacy and freedom of expression. In addition, the report highlights the chilling effect that Pegasus spyware has or could potentially have on other human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to dignity, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and even the physical and psychological integrity of an individual.

A look at NSO Pegasus spyware

The NSO has no credibility. It doesn’t matter much what the company does or doesn’t admit: it has been cunning and blatantly lied so many times that you can’t believe anything it says.

Governments also cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the covert surveillance methods they use. The smart money would be on the Pegasus, which has been used in almost every country on the planet.

So while the interim report is a useful document to help policy makers understand how dangerous NSO Pegasus spyware is, the only way to change anything is if spyware is banned internationally and the company goes out of business.