back to article US military contractor moves to buy Israeli spy-tech company NSO Group

US security technology provider L3Harris has courted controversial Israeli spyware firm NSO with an aim to buy it, according to reports. The New York Times claims L3Harris in recent months sent a team to Israel to try to smooth passage of the deal, which was made challenging by US president Joe Biden's decision to blacklist …

  1. Clausewitz4.0

    Cyber Capabilities

    Do they realize its not just buying a company? The most important assets are the guys behind the R&D. Will they be able to keep the quality?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Cyber Capabilities

      Nothing changes for the employees

      It merely changes from being an evil foreign corporation spying on pure freedom loving American journalists to becoming a freedom loving American company spying on evil foreign journalists

    2. Erik Beall

      Re: Cyber Capabilities

      It sounds like they had some good people but most of them left due to the dawning realization of the implications of their 200k/yr job, that they could make the same elsewhere and be able to sleep at night, eventually, after therapy and maybe not even then... Exploit generation seems to require continual investment, and I wonder if L3Harris just thinks this is a good Microsoft style way to get into the business, which probably means they have no idea what they're doing, they'll be sure to try to sell whatever has been developed so far, which will become rapidly obsolete if they don't have good people and continual engineering to keep developing their methods. It's clearly a very different development and product life cycle than they're used to. Whether it's a mistake or not will not be well known, classified but probably readily inferred from where they're selling (or not) in a few years time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cyber Capabilities

        "...and be able to sleep at night, eventually, after therapy and maybe not even then..."

        As I've said before, US defense contractors with clearance aren't allowed to get therapy unless/until they want to have their clearance revoked. This doesn't necessarily mean they have to stop working in the defense industry, but it may make it difficult since some employers/contracts/customer sites require it.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the use of its Pegasus software to crack phones of politicians and campaigners"

    Um, let's not forget journalists, shall we ?

    1. Erik Beall

      Re: "the use of its Pegasus software to crack phones of politicians and campaigners"

      Yeah, if you know ahead of time when am officially disliked exiled journalist will be coming in to your embassy because he has if he wants to get married, it makes it so much easier to plan a complex kill and dismember operation. Thanks NSO group! Really helping fight terrorism... The mental gymnastics their CEO has to do on a daily basis to believe his bs must leave him exhausted.

      1. Furious Reg reader John

        Re: "the use of its Pegasus software to crack phones of politicians and campaigners"

        Are you going to condemn the saw makers as well? Or the acid producers/the oven builder? How about even just starting with the people who actually killed him? Or is it just the Israeli firm who is at fault here?

  3. Paul Herber Silver badge

    if not the USA

    then I'm sure buyers could be found in China, Iran, Russia, N Korea ...

  4. Lis


    whilst the is Israeli owned it is a bad company. But if an American company buys it it will turn into a good company? It figures. Not that the Americans would use it against any of their allies of course.

    To quote some film tagline "Be afraid, be very afraid", or something along those lines.

    Bit of a showing up for the N.S.A. though isn't it. Their stuff not up to the competition?


    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So

      >whilst the is Israeli owned it is a bad company.

      No an Israeli company must be a good thing by definition. That its customers include the Saudi secret police just shows how it is a shining example of inter-faith cooperation.

      By becoming an American company it will transcend this to become a world wide champion of peace and understanding - probably with Tony Blair on its board

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So

        "probably with Tony Blair on its board"

        And Nick Clegg as the janitor Director of PR Clean-up Operations.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: So

          "1 thumb down"

          Is that you Nick?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: So

      Bit of a showing up for the N.S.A. though isn't it. Their stuff not up to the competition?

      It's completely irrelevant. The NSA doesn't sell its tools. L3Harris does. What the NSA can or cannot do is irrelevant to L3Harris.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "In June, NSO told European lawmakers that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware, though it admitted these customers include "more than five" European Union member states. "

    Since the NSO group don't seem to mind selling it to the Saudi secret police and other dodgy organisations. Does that mean anyone with enough cash get a copy of the Pegasus spyware? I mean if i have a few million (guessing that is how much it cost?) could i put an order in for it? I promise i am only going to use it for research purposes on my own devices ;)

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Of course not! NSO group is proud to only sell to governments, including yours if you trust them, not including yours if you object to that. There's no way that you could be at risk from anyone else, which means you are completely safe because governments only target terrorists, you know. Would you like to come inside for a meeting about completely non-business things? You can leave that case full of paper you brought over here while we chat. Also, we have a few demonstrations of how cool our product is when governments use it, so try not to look at the posters and videos in the room.

  6. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    I had not thought this possibility through

    but it is a natural consequence of my observation here some months ago that the NSO is a weapons manufacturer.

    Interesting that this is an international acquisition, however...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I had not thought this possibility through

      It might be that after all the lobbying and permissions come down from Uncle Sam, the Israeli Govt. might just decide that NSO is a strategic asset and veto the sale.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: I had not thought this possibility through

      I wouldn't characterize them that way. While they are making weapons, I think "cybercrime organization" or to use a more technical term "advanced persistent threat" are better terms for what they are. A weapons manufacturer usually has some degree of trying to adhere to laws, for example making sure the people selling their weapons to evil people is some middleman they don't know. NSO doesn't bother with that distinction.

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Abu Ghraib torturers

    L3 were one of the main torturers at Abu Ghraib. They called themselves Titan back then, then L3 but this is them. You got to worry about any company that rebrands itself every few years.

    Now you may think torture during the Iraq invasion was justified. No. Torture doesn't produce good intelligence, and even if you don't care about the innocent Iraqi victims then maybe you care the awful intelligence led to US soldiers dying. They'd just round up a bunch of innocent civilians and torture them to meet their quota. This created ISIS.

    Now you may think that they'd be punished for their war crimes, but no, the only people punished at Abu Ghraib were a few lowly GIs - and every whistleblower.

    Please do ask me more, this will be my chosen subject on Mastermind.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More than five…

    So which one is the sixth, seventh, etc.?

    I count Spain, Greece, Poland, Hungary and Germany. I discard France since most likely they have their own capabilities and they just don't trust foreign tech easily.

    1. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: More than five…

      The French technology est Fermé Dimanche et Lundi and sometimes on Mardi. And it will just stop working at random for its 2 week annual holiday whenever it feels like it, then want to retire at 50 on a full pension.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US no want

    I can only day dream of L3 buying NSO and promptly being arrested for treason and terrorism.

    The reality is these criminal organizations are the enforcers for persons in government roles that are the most evil greedy criminals.

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