News Release

Israeli NSO Group Behind WhatsApp Hack Targeting Human Rights Workers

The New York Times reports: “An Israeli firm accused of supplying tools for spying on human-rights activists and journalists now faces claims that its technology can use a security hole in WhatsApp, the messaging app used by 1.5 billion people, to break into the digital communications of iPhone and Android phone users. Security researchers said they had found so-called spyware — designed to take advantage of the WhatsApp flaw — that bears the characteristics of technology from the company, the NSO Group.”

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN,  richards1052 at gmail.com, @richards1052

Silverstein wrote the piece “After Buying Major Stake in Israeli Cyber-Attack Firm, NSO Group, Global Witness Director Quits Board” for his Tikun Olam blog, which focuses on national security issues.

See his piece in The Nation: “How Israeli Tech Firms Act as Global Agents of Repression.” He writes: “Two Israeli companies are at the forefront of this commercialization of dirty ops: NSO Group and Black Cube. … Israel’s NSO Group sabotages the political affairs of foreign nations in a different way. It too hires talented cyber-intelligence specialists from Unit 8200; one of the company’s three founders was an 8200 cyber-hacker. They are hired because they bring with them methods and code used by Israeli SIGINT to hack the phones of Palestinians and other targets of Israeli surveillance.”

He said today: “NSO Group is the ‘dirty ops’ company behind the most recent WhatsApp hack. Many are focusing on the hack and its impact on WhatsApp customers. But less on NSO itself and its culpability for causing harm to human rights activists (including the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, for which it was an accessory). There’s also NSO’S recent unicorn status, after its billion-dollar sale to a British vulture capitalist, who himself claimed to be a philanthropist funding human rights NGOs.”

See from Wired: “How Hackers Broke WhatsApp With Just a Phone Call.”