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WhatsApp CEO disputes NSO’s denial that the iPhone was attacked by Pegasus

According to foreign media reports, WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart is dissatisfied that NSO Group does not assume responsibility for monitoring and hacking the iPhones and other devices of journalists and activists. After discovering that Pegasus spyware was being used to monitor senior journalists, activists and world leaders, NSO took some measures to quell the incident.

On July 23, NSO CEO Shalev Hulio issued a statement stating that the company has no control over how the government ultimately uses its tools. According to the company’s own introduction, the tools they provide are designed to catch serious criminals and terrorists.

However, WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said in an interview with The Guardian that the leaked more than 50,000 phone numbers may be real, and these numbers are believed to be of interest to NSO customers. Cathcart also believes that this is consistent with the survey conducted by WhatsApp in 2019, which seems to prove that it has been in progress for many years.

Cathcart said: “The report is consistent with what we saw in the attack we defeated two years ago, which is very consistent with what we were vocal about at the time.”

This refers to WhatsApp’s investigation of an attack on its system and users in 2019, and the attack seems to be related to PegASUS. In addition to senior government officials, the targets at the time also included journalists and human rights activists, who Cathcart believed should not be monitored in any way, form, or form.

Cathcart’s remarks are contrary to those of NSO Group CEO Hulio, who once said that people who are not criminals have nothing to be afraid of using the tool.

The WhatsApp CEO also questioned NSO’s assertion that the list was exaggerated, as about 1,400 users of WhatsApp in the 2019 attack were affected within two weeks. Cathcart said: “This tells us that over a long period of time, over a period of years, the number of people attacked is very high.”

According to the court documents seen by The Washington Post regarding WhatsApp’s lawsuit against NSO Group in 2019, NSO stated that it should obtain “sovereign immunity” because its customers are vetted government customers, and it cannot because of its customers. Was prosecuted for his actions.

NSO insists that it has no control targets, but the evidence shows that this is not the case. NSO’s internal documents mentioned-“The company will provide end users with assistance in operating, managing and configuring the system and solving any software technical problems.”

The judge believed that NSO retained some control rights and therefore allowed the proceedings to continue. NSO filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in April 2021. No decision has been made yet.

The 2019 attack was not the first time Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, had a deal with the NSO Group. In 2017, the social network asked to purchase Pegasus to obtain more iOS user activity data, but NSO refused at the time, saying that it only sells products to “sovereign governments or government agencies.”

In view of discovering that the iPhone has been successfully hacked by Pegasus many times, Cathcart called on Apple to adjust its method of handling malware.

Cathcart continued: “If this affects journalists all over the world, then it affects human rights defenders around the world and affects all of us. If anyone’s mobile phone is insecure, it means that everyone’s mobile phone is insecure. Not safe.”

On July 19th, Apple condemned these attacks and said “We will continue to work tirelessly to protect all customers, and we will continue to add new protection measures to their devices and data.”

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