Court orders WhatsApp to hand over code for Israeli company's smartphone spyware ``Pegasus''

Pegasus , a spyware developed by Israeli software company NSO Group , can infect smartphones and collect a variety of data, including call content and location information, allowing it to monitor political activists and journalists around the world. It is known that it was used for. A new American court has ordered NSO Group to hand over the Pegasus source code to Meta's WhatsApp .

Court orders maker of Pegasus spyware to hand over code to WhatsApp | WhatsApp | The Guardian

WhatsApp finally forces Pegasus spyware maker to share its secret code | Ars Technica

NSO Group must hand over Pegasus source code, court rules

Once Pegasus infects a smartphone, it can collect all sorts of data such as text messages, photos, call history, social media posts, passwords, contacts, movies, recorded files, and browsing history. It is also possible to activate cameras and microphones without permission, and to intercept telephone calls.

NSO Group is believed to have a close relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and it has been reported that the Israeli Ministry of Defense has requested NSO Group's cooperation in connection with the military conflict with the Gaza Strip. According to The Guardian, the source code for NSO Group's spyware products is treated like a state secret, and the sale of spyware is strictly monitored by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which sells it only to approved foreign government and intelligence agencies. It is said that it has been done. Years of research have confirmed that countries such as Poland, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, India, Hungary, and the United Arab Emirates used NSO Group's spyware to monitor their people.

NSO Group insists that Pegasus is ``a tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to fight criminals such as terrorists and child abusers and protect national security.'' However, it is known that it is actually used in various countries to monitor opposition political activists, journalists, and even heads of state. It was also reported that the smartphone of the wife of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in 2018, was also monitored by Pegasus.

Smartphone monitoring software ``Pegasus'' may have been used to monitor more than 180 journalists in 20 countries - GIGAZINE

Meanwhile, the messaging app WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, demanding a permanent ban on access to WhatsApp and Facebook's systems. WhatsApp's claim is that ``NSO Group used Pegasus to spy on as many as 1,400 WhatsApp users and illegally access sensitive data, including encrypted messages,'' and investigated the full functionality of Pegasus. In order to do so, we are requesting that you hand over the source code.

WhatsApp sues Israeli technology company over global hacking that led to assassinations and threats - GIGAZINE

Initially, NSO Group argued that data disclosure was exempt based on 'various restrictions between the United States and Israel,' but this blanket request was denied. NSO Group then argued that it was sufficient to disclose only ``Pegasus installation layer information,'' but U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton also rejected this argument.

'With information showing the functionality of only the installed layer of the relevant spyware, plaintiffs cannot understand how the relevant spyware performs its functions of accessing and extracting data,' Hamilton wrote in a late February 2024 ruling. 'We cannot do so,' and ordered the disclosure of all spyware functions from April 29, 2018 to May 10, 2020. On the other hand, it has been determined that NSO Group's server architecture and customer names do not need to be disclosed.

A WhatsApp spokesperson said: 'The court's decision is an important milestone in our long-term goal of protecting WhatsApp users from illegal attacks. Spyware companies and other malicious actors are arrested and We need to understand that we can't ignore the law.'

The trial itself is still ongoing, and the trial is scheduled to begin on March 3, 2025.

in Mobile,   Software,   Security, Posted by log1h_ik