Israel’s NSO Group Under Scrutiny for WhatsApp Malware
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Israel’s NSO Group Under Scrutiny for WhatsApp Malware 

WhatsApp has accused an Israeli cyber intelligence firm, NSO Group on October 29, claiming that the firm is assisting government spies break into the cell phones of people across four different continents. An estimated 1,400 users have fallen prey to the hacking spree that has targeted journalists, famous celebrities, senior government officials, diplomats and political dissidents.

Facebook owned WhatsApp filed the lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco. Out of the estimated 20 countries that are probably getting affected by the move, only few including Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have been identified.

Reports claim the cyber-attack that took place from the end of April to the middle of May affected many women who had faced threats of violence and assassination attempts previously.

As per a spokesman from WhatsApp, “This is the first time that an encrypted messaging provider is taking legal action against a private entity that has carried out this type of attack against its users.” He added, “In our complaint, we explain how NSO carried out this attack, including acknowledgement from an NSO employee that our steps to remediate the attack were effective.”

WhatsApp has optimistically supported David Kaye, a UN special rapporteur, who highlighted the issue of invasive spyware.

While NSO Group denies the allegations laid by WhatsApp, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, John Scott Railton supported WhatsApp on the initiative. He said, “a major positive step forward for human rights protections online and will absolutely set a precedent.” 

Drawing a virtual veil that shows its concern for human rights, the NGO Group and many more firms from the commercial spyware industry have attempted to enter into unrequired arenas. Even though they claim to be acting lawfully, they don’t take up any responsibility in cases when rules are broken.

The NSO Group has been in scrutiny since last year, when it was accused of targeting Omar Abdulaziz, a close associate of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi before his vehement murder in Istanbul.

Another news reporting the misuse of technology is the accusation laid on Alphabet Inc’s Google by an Australian regulator. As per the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC),
Google did not inform the users that they needed to switch off certain settings if they want their information to remain with them, thereby denying the company access to their personal information.

The Federal Court filing on October 29 stated, “Google’s conduct caused users to understand that personal data about their location was not being obtained … by Google when in fact personal data was being obtained.”

As per the website of the Federal Court, the next hearing for the case will be on November 14.

Despite the affirmation that cyber intelligent firms like NSO Group give for adhering to WhatsApp security rules, such news makes them less credible in the eyes of the user.

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