Data Privacy & Cybersecurity » Apple’s Lawsuit Against NSO Will Proceed

Apple’s Lawsuit Against NSO Will Proceed

February 12, 2024

Apple’s Lawsuit Against NSO Will Proceed

On January 23 a federal judge in California ruled that NSO, an Israeli-based developer and purveyor of spyware, will have to face Apple in court, according to the Record.

Apple claims that the company’s Pegasus tool unfairly profited from Apple, and violates computer fraud laws by selling the spyware to governments worldwide. NSO had asked for dismissal of the charges, arguing that they should be heard in Israel.

Apple’s lawsuit references the effort and expense it has incurred helping users detect and eradicate Pegasus. It alleges that NSO facilitates the creation of fake Apple IDs used to breach Apple’s servers and deploy a hack called FORCEDENTRY.

Its complaint calls FORCEDENTRY a “zero-click” exploit. It allows NSO clients to access victims’ devices “without any action or awareness by the victim.”

Governments including Spain, Greece, Mexico, Poland, Armenia, Hungary, Serbia, and Russia have deployed Pegasus. In September 2023, researchers found it on a phone belonging to a Russian journalist who was critical of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In 2016 it was discovered on the phone of a human rights advocate in the United Arab Emirates. He was arrested and remains in prison.

The owners and investors in the company have suffered from the publicity surrounding Pegasus, and are spending millions in a lobbying effort to restore its reputation.

It was blacklisted by the Biden administration in 2021, an unusual rebuke to an Israeli company active in the defense sector. 

In his opinion, the judge said: “The anti-hacking purpose of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act fits Apple’s allegations to a T, and NSO has not shown otherwise.” He rejected NSO’s arguments for dismissing the case “in all respects.”

He granted NSO’s request to seal lawsuit material, explaining that it was done “primarily on comity for the Israeli courts.”

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