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Several phones of American diplomats have been hacked in recent months by someone using the Pegasus spyware from Israel’s NSO Group, The Washington Post reported.
The attacks, which took place over the past few months, affected at least eleven officials based in Uganda or connected with affairs in that East African country, according to sources cited by the capital-based newspaper.
The announcement of these attacks detected by Apple comes a month after the Department of Commerce placed NSO Group on its “blacklist” for activities related to cyber-espionage, and contrary to the “national security interests” of the United States.
The government then underlined that the Israeli company “developed and supplied cyber-espionage software to foreign governments” that “used these tools to target officials, journalists, businessmen, activists, academics, and reporters.”
NSO is responsible for the development of the Pegasus electronic espionage software, which in July, an international journalistic investigation revealed it had been to spy on hundreds of journalists and political leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron.
In fact, the company had already been singled out on previous occasions for selling the spyware to countries with democratic deficits and some Israeli MPs tried, in 2016, to legally ban export permits for the NSO Group.
This Friday, the National Security Council expressed its concern in a statement, saying NSO Group’s software “poses a serious counterintelligence and security risk to U.S. personnel.”
After being “blacklisted,” NSO’s management office was “dismayed” at Washington’s decision and assured that its technologies “support the national security interests” of the United States.