The iPhones of at least nine senior US officials have been hacked by sophisticated spyware developed by Israeli-based NSO Group, Reuters revealed on Friday.
The US officials are employees of the US State Department, Reuters reported, and the iPhones were hacked in recent months.
Hackers target phones of US State dept. officials using Israeli NSO group's Pegasus, say report
Watch for details pic.twitter.com/22IOhodSFZ
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) December 4, 2021
Reuters disclosed two of its sources stating that the US State Department employees were either based in Uganda or focused on matters relating to Uganda.
Commenting on the issue, the NSO Group affirmed: “If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO’s tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place.”
According to Reuters, officials at the Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Washington have not made comments, and Apple has declined to comment.
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the intrusions, instead, pointed to the Commerce Department’s recent decision to place the Israeli company on an entity list, making it harder for US companies to do business with them.
The intrusions represent the widest known hacks of US officials through NSO technology.https://t.co/Q7WauuWFWB
— Dawn.com (@dawn_com) December 3, 2021
NSO software is capable of not only capturing encrypted messages, photos and other sensitive information from phones but also turning them into recording devices to monitor surroundings, based on product manuals reviewed by Reuters.
It is worth noting that NSO has sought the help of Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to remove its name from a US blacklist.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)