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WhatsApp CEO: US Allies' National Security Officials Targeted with NSO Malware

 

According to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, governments used NSO group malware to target high-ranking government officials all around the world. 

Cathcart addressed the spyware assaults discovered by the Project Pegasus inquiry with The Guardian, noting they are similar to a 2019 attack against 1,400 WhatsApp users. 

Cathcart added, “The reporting matches what we saw in the attack we defeated two years ago, it is very consistent with what we were loud about then. This should be a wake-up call for security on the internet … mobile phones are either safe for everyone or they are not safe for everyone.” 

NSO Group's military-grade spyware is suspected of being utilized against heads of state, cabinet members, activists, and journalists. Over 50,000 phone numbers have been leaked from the Pegasus project's central breach. The inclusion of a person's phone number on the list, however, does not always indicate that they were efficiently targeted, according to The Guardian. 

The leak is said to have included French President Emmanuel Macron, although NSO denies that none of its clients targeted Macron. The IT company also stated that the reported 50,000 figure was overstated. 

Cathcart, on the other hand, tried to refute this portrayal, stating that his firm had documented a two-week-long attack in 2019 that affected 1,400 customers. He added, “That tells us that over a longer period of time, over a multi-year period of time, the numbers of people being attacked are very high. That’s why we felt it was so important to raise the concern around this.” 

According to The Guardian, WhatsApp lodged a lawsuit against NSO in 2019, saying that the corporation had transmitted malware to its customers' phones. NSO, an Israeli firm, argued that the responsibility should be put on its customers who are the foreign government. 

“NSO Group claims that a large number of governments are buying their software, that means those governments, even if their use of it is more controlled, those governments are funding this," Cathcart stated. "Should they stop? Should there be a discussion about which governments were paying for this software?” 

The NSO spokesperson told The Guardian, "We are doing our best to help to create a safer world. Does Mr. Cathcart have other alternatives that enable law enforcement and intelligence agencies to legally detect and prevent malicious acts of pedophiles, terrorists, and criminals using end-to-end encryption platforms? If so, we would be happy to hear."