NSO Group chief executive, Shalev Hulio
This is pure anti-Semitism.
Hitler put the Jews under scrutiny – before he turned on the gas…!
Back in 2017, few would have disputed that Israel and Saudi Arabia were regional foes. Officially, the countries had no diplomatic ties. Yet for a small group of Israeli businesspeople attending secret meetings with Saudi officials in Vienna, Cyprus and Riyadh that summer, there were signs relations were warming.
The businesspeople represented NSO Group. Their mission was to sell the Saudis NSO’s weapons–grade spyware system, Pegasus.
According to a person who attended the meeting in June 2017 in Cyprus, a senior Saudi intelligence official was “amazed” by what he saw. After a lengthy and technical discussion, the Saudi spy, who had brought a new iPhone, was shown how Pegasus could infect the phone and then be used to remotely operate its camera.
“You don’t need to understand the language to see they were amazed and excited and that they saw what they needed to,” the person said.
NSO Group had been given explicit permission by the Israeli government to try to sell the homegrown hacking tools to the Saudis. It was a classified arrangement and resulted in the sale later being sealed in Riyadh in a deal reportedly worth at least $55m.
“In Israel there is a strong political movement to make diplomacy through business,” said the person, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Business first, diplomacy later. When you make a deal together, it opens a lot of doors to diplomacy.”
It is common for governments to help companies export their products. NSO, after all, employs former Israeli cyber-intelligence officials and retains links to the defence ministry.
But revelations about how repressive states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan and others have used NSO’s technology to target human rights lawyers, activists and journalists raise questions for Israel and have put the issue under fresh scrutiny.
The disclosures threaten to put diplomatic pressure on Israel, amid questions over whether it is using the licensing of NSO’s spyware for political leverage – and allowing the software to be sold to undemocratic countries that are likely to misuse it.
A recent transparency report released by NSO Group acknowledged the company was “closely regulated” by export control authorities in Israel. The Defense Export Controls Agency (DECA) within the Israeli defence ministry “strictly restricts” the licensing of some surveillance products based on its own analysis of potential customers from a human rights perspective, the company said, and had rejected NSO requests for export licences “in quite a few cases”.
Moreover, NSO was also subject to an “in-depth” regulatory review by Israel on top of its own “robust internal framework”.
Within NSO, the process Israel uses to assess whether countries can be sold the technology is considered a “state secret”. A person familiar with the process said officials in both Israel’s national security council and prime minister’s office had been known to give their input.
What remains unclear is whether Israel’s intelligence agencies might have special privileges with NSO, such as access to surveillance material gathered using its spyware. One person close to the company, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was a frequent topic of speculation. Asked whether Israel could access intelligence gathered by NSO clients, they replied: “The Americans think so.”
That view was supported by current and former US intelligence officials, who told the Washington Post, a partner in the Pegasus project, that there was a presumption that Israel had some access – via a “backdoor” – to intelligence unearthed via such surveillance tools.
John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, said he believed it would be “irresponsible” for a state to allow the large-scale distribution of a powerful surveillance tool such as Pegasus without being able to keep an eye on what was being done with it.
This was an interesting factoid.
The Moroccan government used Israeli malware to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron’s phone calls, Le Monde has reported. More than a dozen other French politicians were reportedly targeted in a scheme denied by Morocco.
Hours after Paris prosecutors launched an investigation into allegations that Morocco’s intelligence agencies used Israeli malware to hack the phones of several French journalists, Le Monde reported that Macron was also targeted by Rabat’s agents in 2019, along with former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 other ministers.
The use of the ‘Pegasus’ malware, developed by Israeli firm NSO, to snoop on the phone communications of politicians, journalists, activists and business figures was revealed by Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, a French investigative organization. These NGOs obtained a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers, some of which were allegedly breached by the Pegasus malware, and shared the data with 17 media outlets. Le Monde was one of these outlets, which began publishing stories of the security breaches on Sunday.
Israel as the global headquarters for privately contracted spying is not some new thing.
In fact, nothing about this news item is new – all of this stuff has been happening for years. The Jews have various websites where you can buy access to people’s phones with just their number.
It’s legal to do this in Israel, so they just do it. It’s not complicated. They just buy exploits from hackers. They’re the number one buyer because they have an industry of selling.
Even if you’re not an anti-Semite, it is simply a fact of reality that Jews have always been involved in scummy stuff that Christians didn’t want to be involved in because they have honor and pride and morality and so on.
There’s absolutely no way that NSO could have put its tech at the disposal of at least 12 foreign governments to track 180 journalists without getting the go-ahead from the highest levels of the Netanyahu government. That’s the real scandal here. https://t.co/YX3T85SJkR
— Anshel Pfeffer אנשיל פפר (@AnshelPfeffer) July 18, 2021