RS: Multiple news outlets revealed Friday that Apple notified at least 11 U.S. State Department officials that their iPhones were recently hacked by an unknown party or parties with spyware developed by the private Israeli firm NSO Group.
“A multi-agency investigation is immediately needed.”
The “bombshell,” first reported by Reuters, comes after Apple sued NSO Group last month in an effort to protect iPhone users from its Pegasus spyware, which the Israeli company claims to only sell to government law enforcement and intelligence agencies and was the focus of a major reporting project earlier this year.
Citing multiple unnamed sources, The Washington Post and Reuters explained that State Department employees based in Uganda or elsewhere in East Africa were targeted over several months, and the intrusions “represent the widest known hacks of U.S. officials through NSO technology.”
The National Security Council said in a statement reported by the Post that “we have been acutely concerned that commercial spyware like NSO Group’s software poses a serious counterintelligence and security risk to U.S. personnel, which is one of the reasons why the Biden-Harris administration has placed several companies involved in the development and proliferation of these tools on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List.”
Spokespeople for Apple and the State Department declined to comment to Reuters, though the latter also noted that the Commerce Department recently added NSO Group to the Entity List “based on a determination that they developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used this tool to maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics, and embassy workers.”
“This reporting shows—again—why we need to hold NSO accountable for their actions, and why governments need to support increased security online.”