Israeli surveillance software maker NSO Group admitted to European lawmakers this week that their Pegasus software was used by at least five EU countries and that the company terminated at least one contract with an EU member state due to misuse of its software.
Addressing a European Parliament committee examining the use of spyware in Europe, NSO Group adviser Haim Gelfand said the company had “made mistakes” but had also given up huge revenues by terminating contracts due to misuse of its software. Politico.
“We are trying to do the right thing and that is more than what other companies in this industry are doing,” Gelfand said.
At least five EU countries have used NSO software, he said, adding that he would return to MEPs with a “more concrete number”.
EU lawmakers launched an investigation after discovering that spyware was widely used in Europe and used against some of the EU’s most prominent leaders, including Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, and political groups in Spain, Poland and Hungary.
In Spain, the scandal led to an investigation into the behavior of the CNI intelligence agency, which Catalan political groups accuse of spying on the leaders of the region’s independence movement.
Carles Pujdemont, a member of the investigation committee and a Catalan politician who was himself the target of Pegasus spyware, said he supported a complete ban on Pegasus, recalling a ban on an Israeli company in the United Statesas she admitted that she could not control the use of her software.
Acknowledging that it “made mistakes”, the company also stressed that it wants to see the creation of an international body to regulate the use of spyware, so that only countries that agree to the established rules could use this technology, Gelfand said.
“A lot needs to be done, so we call for an international standard,” he said.
In April 2022, the Council of Europe set up a special committee to investigate alleged violations of European law following the discovery that Pegasus spy software is used to spy on the phones of politicians, diplomats and members of civil society.
“The committee will examine existing national laws governing surveillance and whether Pegasus spy software has been used for political purposes against, for example, surveillance of journalists, politicians and lawyers,” the European Parliament announced in March 2022.
In February this year, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) called for a ban on the use of commercial spyware in the region, stating that the “unprecedented level of intrusiveness” of this technology could jeopardize the user’s right to privacy.
Pegasus and similar programs, such as FinFisher and Citrox, are designed to be installed completely seamlessly on victims ’phones by exploiting unknown vulnerabilities in software known as 0-days.
Infections are usually achieved by one-click attacks, where targets are tricked into clicking on a link sent via messages in iMessage or WhatsApp, or alternatively, using click-free exploits that do not require any victim interaction. Apple and WhatsApp have therefore filed lawsuits against the NSO.
Once installed, spyware provides a range of options to the operator who can track where the victim is, eavesdrop on conversations and filter out messages even from encrypted applications such as WhatsApp.
The NSO Group, founded in 2010, has long argued that it delivers software only to government clients to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, but evidence points to widespread misuse of software often used to track political opponents, critics, activists and journalists around the world.
“The use of Pegasus does not require cooperation with telecommunications companies and can easily overcome encryption, SSL, proprietary protocols and any obstacle posed by complex communications around the world,” the Council of Europe said in a report. “It provides remote, secret and unlimited access to the target’s mobile devices. This modus operandi of Pegasus clearly reveals its ability to be used for targeted as well as non-selective surveillance. “
Source: Informacija.rs by www.informacija.rs.
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