In a new legal firework, Apple has instituted a suit against cyber intelligence technology firm, NSO Group at a California court, seeking to block the Israel based company from breaking into Apple’s products, like the iPhone.
In a complaint filed in a federal court in California, Apple accused NSO Group employees of being “amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse.”
Apple also averred that Pegasus, an NSO Group’s spyware, is being used to attack a small number of Apple customers worldwide.
Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, in a statement said:
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change”.
But the NSO group in its reaction denied the accusation, noting that its products have been used by governments to save lives.
“Paedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe-havens, and we provide governments the lawful tools to fight it. NSO group will continue to advocate for the truth,” the company said in a statement.
The hacking firm will see this latest litigation as a big setback as it was recently blacklisted by the United States Commerce Department, while also currently facing another lawsuit from social media giant, Facebook.
NSO’s famous spyware, Pegasus has also been accused by Security Researchers of being used globally to illegally access the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even members of the Catholic clergy.
Several examples of NSO Group tools using so-called “zero click” exploits that infect targeted mobile phones without any user interaction have also been reportedly discovered by researchers.
The United States Government had earlier in November announced the addition of NSO Group and Candiru, another Israeli cyber security firm to the ‘entity list’, a trade restriction list that will limit their access to U.S. components and technology by requiring government permission for exports.
Security Researchers earlier in the month announced that the Pegasus spyware was detected in the smartphones of 6 human rights activists from Palestine, with Mexican authorities of recent announcing the arrest of a businessman on the accusation he used the Pegasus spyware to spy on a journalist.
Social media giant, Facebook, now Meta had sued the NSO Group, accusing the firm of intruding to its WhatsApp messaging app, with the U.S federal appeal court earlier in the month rejecting NSO’s application to have the suit discarded.
Apple has announced the donation of $10 million, and all damages won in the NSO Group lawsuit, to cyber surveillance researchers and advocates.