NSO Group hacked the phones of the US State Department
NSO Group hacked the phones of the US State Department

At least nine US State Department employees working or cooperating with Uganda have been attacked by NSO Group spyware, according to Reuters.

Hacker attacks in recent months have targeted US officials in Uganda or have focused on issues related to East African countries.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed the news, claiming that the number of workers at the American and Ugandan embassies who had been hacked had reached 11.

Although it is not clear who initiated these attacks, the NSO Group has stated that it sells its software only to government organizations approved by the Israeli government.

The NSO Group claims that its spyware cannot target US phone numbers. The Uganda case does not seem to refute this claim.

Reuters reported that the targeted persons were employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But they use foreign phone numbers that don't have a US country code.

However, these devices are used in the official affairs of the State Council. This indicates that Israeli society may now be involved in espionage against the US government.

Pegasus spyware can remotely log data from an infected iOS or Android device. It can be used to surreptitiously operate the phone's microphone or camera. It is also designed to infect mobile phones without the target clicking on the link or taking any action.

Even Pegasus should leave no trace. But investigators have developed ways to determine if the phone has been hacked.

The NSO Group must obtain approval from the Israeli Ministry of Defense before selling its software to any other government agency.

The company's founders insist that the company does not know who is using its customer monitoring software. The company also said it would investigate whether customers were using Pegasus to attack prohibited targets and if there was evidence of abuse it would disrupt access to customers.

Big scandal around spyware provider NSO Group

A spokesperson for the NSO Group told Reuters the company was investigating its report. The Israeli embassy in Washington told Reuters that targeting Pegasus against US officials is a serious breach of the license agreement.

"The aforementioned network products are regulated, approved and used only for the purposes of combating terrorism and serious crime and are exported to the government," the embassy spokesperson said. The license terms are clear and if this data is correct, then these terms are seriously violated. .

The United States recently added the NSO Group to its list of companies. This limits the companies that US companies want to do business with.

Apple has sued the NSO Group, claiming that it created more than 100 iCloud accounts to send malicious data via iMessage in violation of Apple's terms of service.

Apple said it has fixed a specific vulnerability used by the Israeli company to install Pegasus on iOS 14.8. She explained that she added additional protection in iOS 15.

When the company announced its lawsuit, Apple said it would inform users who had fallen victim to government-sponsored spying activities.

Ugandan politician Norbert Mao said on Twitter in November that he had received one of the notifications. The Wall Street Journal reported that US officials also received these communications.

There are also reports that the US government is working with other countries to develop an initiative to prevent the sale of surveillance tools and technology to authoritarian governments.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the focus is on export controls. It could be announced at the Democracy Summit, which begins on December 9.

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