Apple Sues Israeli NSO Group For Targeting iPhone Users With Its Notorious Spyware


Apple is considered to be the maker of some of the most popular devices, as well as the most secure. But that doesn't mean it's can thwart every single attacks thrown to its devices. And among the things Apple is vulnerable to, includes the notorious Pegasus spyware.

Created by the Israeli company NSO Group, the spyware can do all sorts of nefarious things, including stealing sensitive information.

When it was revealed the company created an iMessage exploit that was used to spy on journalists and other high-profile individuals on behalf of various governments, Apple went furious.

In retaliation, Apple announced in a newsroom post that it has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group.

Apple claims that it is suing the creators of the spyware to "prevent further abuse and harm to its users."

NSO Group's office in Herzliya, Israel.
NSO Group's office in Herzliya, Israel. (Credit: NSO Group/Google Maps)

Pegasus was developed, with customers that include government entities, as well as law enforcement agencies. NSO Group does not sell its spyware to regular people.

Shalev Hulio, its co-founder and CEO once said that criminals should have nothing to worry about when being surveilled.

But problem about this particular spyware is that, many countries that have purchased Pegasus are known to violate human rights, which puts people like journalists and political opponents in danger.

And not only that, as the Pegasus spyware was reportedly used also on dissidents, academics, activists, and others, in order to track their every movement,

Apple described the NSO Group as "amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse."

Apple’s Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said that:

"State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change," said Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi. "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," Federighi continued, "and we're constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy protections in iOS to keep all our users safe."

According to Ivan Krstić, head of Apple Security Engineering and Architecture, in a tweet:

"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."

Apple said that the Pegasus spyware can only collect data from users' devices, and that it cannot steal data from Apple servers.

The Cupertino sues NSO Group for all revenues generated by Pegasus, along with compensation for its time plus punitive damages. It also wants a permanent injunction preventing the Israeli company from accessing Apple services, software, and devices.

By suing the NSO Group through the lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California, Apple expects to put an end to NSO Group's Pegasus campaign.

While NSO Group spyware continues to evolve, Apple is always slightly ahead of the curve within each major iOS/iPadOS update.

This is why Apple urges all of its users to update their iPhone and always use the latest version.

In addition to the lawsuit, Apple also announced a $10 million contribution to organizations working on behalf of cybersecurity.