The NSO group denied that its spyware was used compromise the phones of many politicians, but WhatsApp tells a different story. The CEO of the chat giant, Will Cathcart, told The Guardian u interview that governments allegedly used NSO Pegasus software to attack senior government officials around the world in 2019, including senior national security officials who were allies of the United States. The violations were reportedly part of a larger campaign that is endangered 1,400 WhatsApp users in two weeks, filing a lawsuit.
Reporting on the NSO “matches” the findings from the 2019 WhatsApp attack, Cathcart said. Human rights activists and journalists were also believed to be victims.
The director responded to allegations that governments used Pegasus to hack phones for 37 people, including women close to the slain Saudi journalist. Jamal Khashoggi. Those targets were also on a list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from 2016, which included activists, journalists and politicians, although it is not clear whether anyone over 37 was the victim of the attack.
The NSO strongly rejected allegations of hacking and census, insisting that “there is no factual basis” and that the list was too large to focus only on Pegasus ’potential targets. He also directly challenged Cathcart, asking if WhatsApp exec has “other alternatives” to its tools that would help prevent “pedophiles, terrorists and criminals” by using encrypted software.
Cathcart, however, did not buy that explanation – he pointed to 1,400 people as possible evidence that the number of targets was “very high”. Whatever the truth, it is safe to say that WhatsApp will not remove its lawsuits (or war of words) any time soon.
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