Apple is suing a company known for hacking iPhones on behalf of the government

On Tuesday, Apple sued NSO Group, an Israeli company that sells software to government agencies and law enforcement that allows them to hack into iPhones and read their data, including messages and other communications.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it had found new iPhones belonging to journalists and human rights lawyers infected with the NSO Group's malware Pegasus.
Apple is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent NSO Group from using Apple software, services, or devices. The company is also seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Apple sees the lawsuit as a warning to other spyware vendors."The steps taken by Apple today will send a clear message: it is unacceptable in a free society to weaponize powerful state-sponsored spyware against innocent users and those seeking to make the world a better place," Ivan Vaughan, Apple's Security Engineering and Architecture, said in a tweet.

NSO Group's software allows "attacks, including from sovereign governments that pay hundreds of millions of dollars to attack a small number of users who have information of particular interest to NSO customers," Apple said in the lawsuit filed in federal Court for the Northern District of California, saying it was not "ordinary consumer malware."
Apple also said on Tuesday that it had fixed a bug that allowed NSO Group software to gain access to private iPhone data through a "zero-click" attack that delivered malware via text messages and left few traces of infection.
Apple's lawsuit alleges that Pegasus users can remotely monitor iPhone users' activities, collect emails, text messages and browsing history, and access the iPhone's microphone and camera.
Apple said the attacks targeted only a small number of users and said on Tuesday that it would notify iPhone users who may have been affected by the Pegasus malware.
"To install FORCED ENTRY software on Apple devices, the attacker created Apple ids to send malicious data to the victim's device -- allowing NSO Group or its customers to deliver and install the Pegasus spyware without the victim's knowledge," Apple said in its statement."While Apple servers were misused to post FORCED ENTRY, Apple servers were not hacked or compromised during these attacks."
Apple said NSO Group created Apple ID accounts and violated iCloud terms of service to operate its spyware.
NSO Group is accused of creating its spyware using the "0day" vulnerability, or one apple has yet to fix. Once Apple fixes the bug, it's no longer zero-days, and users can protect themselves by updating their iPhone software.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International said it had found evidence that the iPhone 12 had been hacked and obtained a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers targeted by NSO Group's software.NSO Group's software was allegedly used to spy on relatives and people close to Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed in Turkey by assassins working on behalf of Saudi Arabia.
Amnesty also said it had found NSO Group malware on the phones of a French human rights lawyer, a French activist, an Indian journalist, and a Rwandan activist.
Earlier this month, the US Commerce Department blacklisted NSO Group from using US technology in its operations. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is also suing NSO Group separately, alleging that it helped hack users of Meta's subsidiary WhatsApp.
Apple said it would donate $10 million to organizations working to combat digital surveillance, as well as any damages it recovers from the lawsuit.
"Thousands of lives have been saved around the world as a result of customers using NSO Group technology," an NSO Group spokesman said in a statement."Pedophiles and terrorists are free to operate in a technological haven, and we are giving the government legal tools to fight it.NSO Group will continue to defend the truth."

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