At this point, this is only a rumor, but maybe with high confidence. The Israeli spyware company NSO Group continues to get into trouble as they sell their software, pretty much, to anyone who will pay the price.
Earlier this month a UK court ruled against NSO that it was likely that a Dubai princess and her lawyers had their phones hacked by the NSO software, probably at the request of her ex-husband.
Amazingly, at virtually the same time, according to an unnamed source, NSO stopped the software from working on all FIVE-EYES country’s phone numbers (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand).
For how long is unclear.
NSO is facing a lot of lawsuits right now, so they may be trying to deflect some heat. Since they are not publicly saying what they are doing or for how long, I would not count on the good behavior lasting. Too much money to ignore.
What likely happened is that some parts of the international intelligence community “suggested” they cool it for a while, otherwise, they might be force to take some actions like they did in Iran with Stuxnet. If you remember, Stuxnet generated a complete meltdown of Iran’s nuclear program. It is highly likely that the NSA or GCHQ could do the same thing to NSO if they wanted to. Not saying that is what happened, but…..
The NY Post reported that the Princess paid $6.4 million to keep an affair with her bodyguard secret. When this fact came out the Princess, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, left Dubai with her two young children from her marriage from the Sheikh. It is likely that all of this ugliness is what caused the Shiekh to decide to hack her and her attorney’s phones.
The Sheikh was a bit unhappy with her sudden departure and tried to get the UK High Court to return the children. I guess in the UAE, all is fair in love, war and child custody. He even tried to kidnap the kids using a helicopter.
All of this is kind of above my pay grade, but it does seem to poke some holes in NSO’s claims that they are good guys and their software is only used to catch bad guys, which is what their public story is.
How long NSO will continue to lose revenue opportunities is not clear.
What this “outing” of NSO means, however, is that fears that the Pegasus software was used to spy on diplomats, politicians, reporters and activists are likely true.
Credit: The Guardian