21 December 2021
Apple has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, an Israeli spyware maker known for developing Pegasus. It made headlines in recent times as a tool used by authorities to spy on iPhones used by activists, journalists, and politicians. The tech giant is looking not only to put a hold on the usage of Pegasus but also to ban NSO Group from using any of its software, services, or devices.
Pegasus is a highly sophisticated surveillance tool developed by NSO Group. It is usually sold to governments of various countries around the world. The tool is known for affecting a victim's device without even requiring an action/input from his end. It was recently found to be exploiting an iMessage vulnerability which Apple has fixed with iOS 14.8 update.
Once the device gets compromised, the attacker can remotely access crucial data transfer happening on the iPhone. These include messages, email, and even listening through the microphone. It can also be used for turning on the phone's camera without the victim's knowledge.
In its defense, NSO has maintained its position that Pegasus is a tool meant to crack down on dangerous criminals like pedophiles and terrorists. It further adds that it has no information related to what its clients are up to once they get access to the tool. This is one of the aspects part of Apple's lawsuit as it also wants to hold the company accountable for all the damages.
Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple said,
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change. Apple devices are the most secure consumer hardware on the market — but private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous. While these cybersecurity threats only impact a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously, and we’re constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy protections in iOS to keep all our users safe.”