NSO Spyware Found on Cellphones of 6 Palestinian Activists
The building housing the Israeli cyber company NSO Group, in a photo from Aug. 28, 2016, in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

NSO Spyware Found on Cellphones of 6 Palestinian Activists

Pegasus surveillance spyware from the Israeli cyberattack company NSO Group was discovered on the cellphones of six Palestinian human rights activists. Three of the activists are affiliated with Palestinian humanitarian organizations that were recently designated as terrorist organizations by Israel’s defense minister, The Associated Press reported.

It is not known who loaded the NSO surveillance spyware on the activists’ phones, according to Mohammed al-Maskati of the nonprofit organization Frontline Defenders, which first discovered the hacks. Two of the hacks were discovered in October and one in February. The spyware gives the intruder access to everything the person saves and does on his phone.

NSO has come under scrutiny following reports that its Pegasus spyware has been used by certain governments, including the UAE, Hungary, India, Mexico, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, to spy on human rights activists, politicians and journalists. NSO says the software was sold to countries to allow their government intelligence and law enforcement agencies to fight terrorism and crime. Last week, the NSO Group was added to a blacklist of companies that the US Department of Commerce says operate against US national security interests and its foreign policy interests, which bars it from purchasing US technology. Meanwhile, Israel also has come under fire for its poor oversight of its digital surveillance industry.

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