US blacklists NSO Group Pegasus for Malicious Cyber Activities

The US on Wednesday said that Israeli spyware maker NSO Group had been added to the Commerce Department’s “entity list”, a federal blacklist that would restrict exports of US technology to the company.

This move comes after President Joe Biden’s government determined that the phone hacking tools of the Israeli Spyware had been used by several foreign governments to “maliciously target government officials, journalists, business people, activists, academics, and embassy workers.”

In July this year, a group of media organizations globally reported how the Pegasus spyware had been used to target lawmakers, activists, journalists, and academics around 10 countries.

NSO spyware company was engulfed in controversy over reports that tens of thousands of human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and businessmen around the world were listed as potential targets of its software.

Phones infected with NSO’s Pegasus software are essentially turned into pocket spying devices, that allow the user to read the target’s messages, look through photos, track location and even turn on their camera without even knowing them.

“These tools have also enabled foreign governments to conduct translational repression, which is the practice of authoritarian governments targeting dissidents, journalists and activists outside of their sovereign borders to silence dissent,” the US Commerce Department said.

Apart from NSO, the US government also targeted Candiru, a smaller Tel Aviv-based company, including, Singapore-based Computer Security Initiative Consultancy PTE and Russian firm Positive Technologies. The companies’ addition to the entity list means that exports to them from US organizations are restricted.

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