Apple Informs US State Department Staffers’ Whose iPhones Were Targeted by Pegasus

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 3 Dec 2021

A few days ago, Apple sued NSO Group for compromising the security of iPhones with its Pegasus spyware. Now, the iPhone maker reportedly told some US State Department staffers that the Pegasus spyware was used to target their iPhones.

Reuters reports that the Israel-based NSO Group’s spyware targeted at least nine United States Department of State employees. The victims were reportedly easy targets because their Apple IDs were linked to their email addresses.

“Apple Inc iPhones of at least nine U.S. State Department employees were hacked by an unknown assailant using sophisticated spyware developed by the Israel-based NSO Group, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The hacks, which took place in the last several months, hit U.S. officials either based in Uganda or focused on matters concerning the East African country, two of the sources said.”

This is a significant development because it marks the widest known hack of US officials using tools made by the NSO Group. The malicious tool is propagated through an iMessage that appears invisible to the recipient. The Israeli firm evaded any responsibility for the targeted hacks of the State Department staffers. Reuters notes that the entity that used NSO’s tools has not been identified yet.

“If our investigation shall show these actions indeed happened with NSO’s tools, such customer will be terminated permanently and legal actions will take place,” said an NSO spokesperson, who added that NSO will also “cooperate with any relevant government authority and present the full information we will have.”

The State Department officials were notified as a part of Apple’s recent initiative to inform all iPhone users compromised by the Pegasus spyware after it sued NSO Group.

Do you think Apple’s case against the Israeli firm for compromising iPhone security holds water? Share your thought with us in the comments below.

[Via Reuters]