WhatsApp has alleged in new court filings in a California court that Israeli surveillance company The NSO Group had controlled United States servers to deploy its spyware, Pegasus, in mobile phones of 1,400 individuals across the world, including over 121 Indians, The Guardian reported.
The hacking incident pertains to October 2019 revelations by WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned personal messaging platform that sued Israeli spyware developer NSO Group for using its spyware Pegasus to exploit a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allowed attackers to plant it in users’ phones just by ringing the target’s device.
Several Dalit rights lawyers and activists, including Anand Teltumbde, Bhima-Koregaon case lawyer Nihal Singh Rathod, Bela Bhatia, Jagdalpur Legal Aid group member Shalini Gera were among those targeted.
The NSO Group, which makes the Pegasus spyware used to target at least 121 Indian citizens, had responded to The Quint’s queries on 31 October stating it “is not able to disclose who is or is not a client” but in the same paragraph reiterated that its software products are sold to no entity but governments.
In response to a list of questions to the Israeli cyber intelligence responded saying: “The sole purpose of NSO is to provide technology to licensed government intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”
However, WhatsApp’s fresh allegations in recent court filings allege the Israeli company used US-based servers and was “deeply involved” in carrying out mobile phone hacks of 1,400 WhatsApp users, including senior government officials, journalists, and human rights activists.
“In the court filings last week, WhatsApp said its own investigation into how Pegasus was used against 1,400 users last year showed that servers controlled by NSO Group – not its government clients – were an integral part of how the hacks were executed,” The Guardian story reported.
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