back to article NSO claims 'more than 5' EU states use Pegasus spyware

NSO Group told European lawmakers this week that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware, though these customers include "more than five" European Union member states. The surveillance-ware maker's General Counsel Chaim Gelfand refused to answer specific questions about the company's customers during a European …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "carefully contracted to only permit legitimate use"

    I would love to have the transcript of the contract discussions with Putin.

    1. Twanky Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "carefully contracted to only permit legitimate use"

      Of course you can get it - they bugged his phone so that they could work out the maximum price he was willing to pay to snoop on the terrorists in Ukraine... all you need to do is pay NSO enough and they'll share that info with you.

      Of course, it might be a good idea to go back to using a feature phone after the deal.

      icon: careful who you sup with --->

  2. Tubz

    President Joe Biden's crackdown on NSO is to ensure it is sold to a US contractor, with ties to 3 letter agencies and being outside the US of A$$, they can spy on anybody, with immunity from such silly things as Amendment Rights and being based in Israel, have far more relaxed rules on spying on overseas targets.

    1. WhereAmI?

      I don't think that's his primary intent, but the collateral damage caused by the crackdown might well result in exactly that.

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      @Tubz

      "Amendment Rights and being based in Israel, have far more relaxed rules on spying on overseas targets."

      The US doesn't have any rules on spying on overseas targets. We don't have any Amendment Rights, hell, I'm not even allowed to own assault rifles. The fuss over NSA spying was due to US citizens being 'inadvertently' being caught up in mass surveillance of foreigners.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to see them do scores using Nazi Germany in 1936 or the Soviet Union in 1950, as comparison points.

  4. sitta_europea

    "NSO Group told European lawmakers this week that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware...

    In additional, NSO is investigating "over 20" customers that are allegedly misusing the software."

    So... the customers are all misusing it?

  5. Lis

    I don't understand

    why anyone would buy this Pegasus stuff, when they can get the "leaked" N.S.A. stuff for free on the net" So I am told.

    Cheers... Ishy

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Joke

      Re: I don't understand

      why anyone would buy this Pegasus stuff, when they can get the "leaked" N.S.A. stuff for free on the net"

      So they can call the support line when they have deployment issues.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: I don't understand

        That's the advantage of using NSA spyware.

        If you have a problem you don't have to call - just pick up the phone and start talking.

        1. Mahhn

          Re: I don't understand

          Great post!

  6. VoiceOfTruth

    The old chestnut

    -> to help law enforcement agencies prevent terrorist attacks and break up pedophile crime rings.

    But in reality:

    -> spying on journalists, activists, everyday citizens, elected officials, and their political opponents.

    Remember that the next time you hear some stupid politician in the UK or anywhere else say "it's for the children", for they are lying baskets.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The old chestnut

      ...and family members of police, especially the ex-wife and kids and various love interests...

      ...and targets on behalf of buddies of the police....

      ...and stalking...

      ...and extortion of criminals...

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: The old chestnut

        Silly, you don't imagine *police* are trusted with something like this, do you?

        What would be to stop them using it on the politicians who are controlling their budgets?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The old chestnut

          Like in France?

          Where investigation on "sex for rent" on the current police minister didn't find anything? (officially)

  7. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Since this stuff has been found and, presumably, studied on many phones, why has no counter yet been found?

    1. Halfmad

      Because those supplying the phones are happy with the status quo.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I had always assumed that it was Mossad plants inside Google and Apple who installed and/or passed on the back doors. Are you suggesting that the companies themselves collaborate quietly with NSO?

  8. Barrie Shepherd

    Hackers of the World Unite

    Why don't the hacker groups band together and release a Pegasus hunting APP we can all test our phone with?

    Or more to the point why are Google / Apple not digging down and protecting their SW ?

    I'd hate to think that collusion was going on at a corporate and 3 letter agency level!

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Hackers of the World Unite

      I'd hate to think ...

      in this case, better not think at all. Would running CyanogenMod help us here ? Not even sure, it's still Android. Tizen, may-be. Best not use your regular phone for any questionable activity.

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Hackers of the World Unite

      Your first suggestion fails in its first clause. Hacker groups won't band together, they (understandably) don't like or trust one another.

      Apple has tried to close the exploits known to be used by Pegasus, but there are always more. I assume Google makes some similar efforts, but it's practically impossible to secure a platform whose user can install apps from anywhere.

  9. Alumoi Silver badge

    I don't know about you but I'd like to get my hands on this software. I'm tired of waiting for xda developers to release a rooting method for my phones.

  10. Mahhn

    How many good people

    I'd like to know how many good people (journalist, human rights advocates) were murdered by these governments due to this software enabling the corrupt governments to hunt down those that would expose them.

    If any software has earned this name, it is Pegasus; 'Murderware"

    1. VoiceOfTruth

      Re: How many good people

      The UK can hardly point the finger. Julian Assange exposed the USA and its poodles for what they are, and he is paying the price. Judicial torture.

  11. DS999 Silver badge

    So how were they "preventing terrorism"

    When their spyware ended up on the phones of multiple prime ministers?

    Obviously they aren't even trying to police their customers' deployments. I mean, if they cared how it was used it wouldn't be THAT hard for them to keep tabs on the phone numbers of phones upon which their spyware was installed, and check it against a list of the phone numbers of western leaders to see if anyone is "misusing" it in a way NSO's marketing department doesn't approve of.

    Because in reality the terrorism thing is just an excuse, they know it will be used by supposedly free countries to spy on leaders of other supposedly free countries, or business leaders in another country (i.e. maybe the UK would want to bug the Softbank CEOs phone to know his plans for ARM in advance) or to track "undesirables" like the Catalan spying.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: So how were they "preventing terrorism"

      Up to a point, Lord Copper.

      The supposedly free country of the USA bugged the phones of prime ministers and leaders of allied countries, and everyone gave them a free pass on the venerable grounds that everybody does it and the delightful Mr. Obama was a beacon of Hope.

      .

      However, anyone listening to the gibberish the chucklehead Boris burbles is not going to get much of value, and the listeners will be entitled to tedium money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So how were they "preventing terrorism"

        listening to BJ phone is an "unusual and harsh punishment", as NSA people are wont to say...

  12. Twanky Silver badge

    The software exists. The methods to remotely install it exist. Do folk really believe NSO are the only people who can do this? Anyone reckon USA or China hasn't got this capability in home-grown (or 'acquired') software?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    .....or use a 2G so-called "feature phone"........

    Yup....the spooks can still track the meta-data.....who the feature phone is used to call......who calls that feature phone.......

    .....but if it's a "pay-as-you-go" 2G feature phone with no registered user (i.e. a burner) then the spooks (and NSO) are clean out of luck!!

    So......use your so-called "smart phone".................and let NSO and their clients know everything about your life..............and the life of all your friends too........

    Advanced technology.......................don't you just love it!!!!!!

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: .....or use a 2G so-called "feature phone"........

      Well, not really, because the total number of targets is only in the tens of thousands. I assume the company knows this because it charges on a per-install basis.

      I doubt if I'm in any government's list of top 0.01% most interesting people to spy on.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: .....or use a 2G so-called "feature phone"........

        Umm, you are kind of both wrong, kind of.

        If you buy your burner from a supermarket then they will have CCTV footage of you up to a year later - so plan ahead.

        I clicked on to UK surveillance before Snowden, realising I'd been a target. I warned a famous (in our circles) anarchist that he was being targetted. "Don't be paranoid, why would MI5 waste time monitoring me?" "I dunno." A few months later his best mate was exposed as a police infiltrator.

        To paraphrase John Donne, you can wonder why the bell is tolling for you but it is tolling for you.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the NSO wasn't good enough.......

    Link: https://www.theregister.com/2022/06/24/spyware_iphones_android_isp/

  15. Falmari Silver badge
    Devil

    Sell strike aircraft not spyware

    “Gelfand refused to answer if his company sold spyware, or had revoked licenses, to countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Hungary, and Poland while he was questioned for two and a half hours by Euro lawmakers."

    How can the EU complain about which counties NSO sells spyware to when they are happy to sell the same countries arms?

    Take Saudi Arabia, the EU are happy to allow the sale of Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornados to Saudi Arabia after airstrikes on civilians in Yemen.

    The US is no better they allow the sale of the F-15E Strike Eagle to Saudi Arabia.

    So suppling spyware is a no no, but strike aircraft is OK!

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Sell strike aircraft not spyware

      well, you don't expect to see SA use their plane to target BJ, do you?

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