Apple is suing NSO Group, creator of “Pegasus” iMessage malware
NSO Group Technologies, based in Herzliya, Israel, made headlines earlier this year after it was revealed the company created an iMessage exploit that was used to spy on journalists and other high-profile individuals on behalf of various governments. NSO is already being sued by Meta (formerly known as Facebook), and now Apple has announced that it is also taking legal action against NSO.
Apple published a press release on Tuesday, saying it has “filed a lawsuit against NSO Group and its parent company to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users. […] These attacks are only aimed at a very small number of users, and they impact people across multiple platforms, including iOS and Android. Researchers and journalists have publicly documented a history of this spyware being abused to target journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government officials.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California, and Apple alleges in the complaint that NSO required the company to “devote thousands of hours to investigate the attacks.” Apple also says the NSO Group shouldn’t be able to deflect blame for the use of its malware, citing a recent US appeals court decision in Meta’s legal action against NSO for its creation of malware affecting WhatsApp. Apple is also requesting a permanent injunction to ban NSO from using Apple products.
NSO Group has also been facing legal action from other companies and governments. Meta is suing the group for its role in creating malware that spread through WhatsApp, as previously mentioned. The United States government added NSO to its entity list earlier this month, which blocks all exports from the U.S., including any hardware or software. NSO’s Pegasus malware has been linked to the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and was reportedly used to spy on nine Bahraini human rights defenders between June 2020 and February 2021.