Apple has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group, an Israeli company that sells software to government and law enforcement agencies to let them hack iPhones.
As CNBC reported on Tuesday (Nov. 23), Apple is asking for a permanent injunction that would ban NSO Group from using Apple’s software, devices and services, as well as more than $75,000 in damages. The company says it considers the suit to be a warning to other vendors in the field.
“The steps Apple is taking today will send a clear message: In a free society, it is unacceptable to weaponize powerful state-sponsored spyware against innocent users and those who seek to make the world a better place,” Ivan Krstic, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, said on Twitter.
The steps Apple is taking today will send a clear message: in a free society, it is unacceptable to weaponize powerful state-sponsored spyware against innocent users and those who seek to make the world a better place. https://t.co/3I9JqomzZu
— Ivan Krstić (@radian) November 23, 2021
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, accuses NSO Group’s software of allowing “attacks, including from sovereign governments that pay hundreds of millions of dollars to target and attack a tiny fraction of users with information of particular interest to NSO’s customers.”
Amnesty International announced earlier this year that it had learned newer-model iPhones belonging to journalists and human rights lawyers had been infected with NSO Group malware known as “Pegasus.”
Apple announced on Tuesday that it had fixed the flaws that let NSO software access private data on iPhones by using “zero-click” attacks that deliver the malware through a text message.
With Pegasus, attackers can remotely monitor the iPhone user’s activities, read their communications and see what their camera sees, Apple’s lawsuit says.
Read more: Facebook Accuses Cybersecurity Firm of Using WhatsApp in Malware Attack
This isn’t the first time a Big Tech company has gone after the NSO Group. In 2019, Facebook filed a complaint against the firm, alleging that it had hacked WhatsApp users.
According to the lawsuit, NSO used malware on about 1,400 phones, targeting diplomats, reporters, human rights activists and government officials.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court allowed the suit to proceed, rejecting NSO’s claim that it was acting as an agent of a foreign government and was thus immune to the civil claim. Facebook’s case has been backed by Google and Microsoft.