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Apple has hit the Israeli firm NSO Group with a lawsuit over the targeting of iPhone users with its Pegasus spyware.
In a statement, Apple also provided new information on how NSO Group had used its spyware to target iPhone users.
The Cupertino-based Apple is also seeking a permanent injunction to ban the NSO Group from future use of its software, services or devices.
The Citizen Lab, an organisation based at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto, recently released a report about the way Pegasus had been used to spy on journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government officials.
“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.
“Apple devices are the most secure consumer hardware on the market — but private companies developing state-sponsored spyware have become even more dangerous.
"While these cyber security threats only affect a very small number of our customers, we take any attack on our users very seriously, and we’re constantly working to strengthen the security and privacy protections in iOS to keep all our users safe.”
The lawsuit said FORCEDENTRY, an exploit developed by NSO Group for a vulnerability in iOS which had now been patched, was used to install the latest version of Pegasus on iPhones.
The suit also seeks redress for what it calls "NSO Group’s flagrant violations of US federal and state law, arising out of its efforts to target and attack Apple and its users".
"To deliver FORCEDENTRY to Apple devices, attackers created Apple IDs to send malicious data to a victim’s device — allowing NSO Group or its clients to deliver and install Pegasus spyware without a victim’s knowledge," the Apple statement said.
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