Apple on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group, the company that makes Pegasus spyware used by some countries to hack into iPhones. Apple says the goal is to hold the NSO Group “responsible for monitoring and targeting Apple users.”
The NSO Group claims that Pegasus is only used by governments to fight crime, but there are accusations that it is being used to hack the smartphones of activists, politicians, journalists and other people.
Apple v NSO Group: Pegasus gets its day in court
After The Citizen Lab found out that Pegasus was being used to monitor dissidents, Apple is seeking a legal ban that would allow it to permanently ban the NSO Group from using Apple software, services or devices.
Apple described the move as a warning shot to NSO as well as other potential spyware manufacturers, according to New York Times.
“This is Apple saying: If you do this, if you arm our software against innocent users, researchers, dissidents, activists or journalists, Apple will not give you a quarter,” said Ivan Krstic, head of Apple security and architecture. The times.
The iPhone maker also wants a cash prize to cover the time it spent facing Pegasus. Apple says it will contribute all the money allocated in the lawsuit to organizations that pursue cyber-surveillance research and advocacy. And it starts with a $ 10 million donation.
“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.
This is just the latest blow to the NSO Group. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently blacklisted the NSO for providing spyware used against political dissidents.
To be clear, Pegasus is not used by criminal gangs against average iPhone users. But those seeking political change in oppressive countries are in danger.
That’s why Apple is working to fight Pegasus in more ways than a court battle. That includes making iPhones harder to hack.
Recent security enhancements are included in iOS 15. “While NSO Group spyware continues to evolve, Apple has not observed any evidence of successful remote attacks against devices running iOS 15 and later,” Apple said in a statement. Those with older devices can get many of the same protections from iOS 12.5.5.
Going forward, Apple will support Citizen Lab researchers with pro-bono technical, threat intelligence and technical assistance to help their independent research mission. And, where relevant, Apple said it would offer the same assistance to similar organizations.