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Israeli govt officials visit NSO Group office to investigate abuse of Pegasus spyware on same day as France-Israel meeting

Since the French President was among those listed as potential targets of surveillance, the Israeli government rushed to ensure that its diplomatic ties were not affected.  Several government officials visited the office of the NSO Group on Wednesday, according to a statement from Israel’s Ministry of Defense. The officials were investigating revelations brought forth by news reports that the firm’s surveillance technology was used to target journalists, activists, politicians, and business executives, among others. NSO Group is responsible for the development of Pegasus, a military-grade spyware that can hoover information on mobile phones like location data, e-mails, contacts, instant messages, as well as take control of the microphone and camera. The spyware is sold only to governments and their agencies, according to its website.  However, a consortium of 17 news organisations led by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, accessed a leaked list of more than 50,000 phone numbers believed to be potential targets of NSO Group’s clients. Their investigation revealed that at least 37 phones, of which 10 were Indian, contained clear signs of being infected by Pegasus. (It must be noted the appearance of a number on the leaked list does not mean it was subject to an attempted or successful hack.) Why it matters? The Israeli government has rushed to contain the fallout from the Pegasus revelations in order to ensure its diplomatic ties are not adversely affected. The phone number of French president Emmanuel Macron, among several other heads of state, was reportedly on the leaked list prompting him to…

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I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

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