ArsTechnica shares the story of how U.S. diplomats in Uganda were hacked by Pegasus, a spyware tool from NSO Group.
Israeli and US officials declined to confirm that the Ugandan hack directly triggered a decision to blacklist NSO. But one US official who discussed the issue with Israel’s defense ministry said: “Look at the entire sequence of events here—this is careful, not by chance.” He added that putting NSO, one of the jewels of Israel’s tech community, on a US blacklist was designed to “punish and isolate” the company.
Check It Out: Hacking US Diplomats in Uganda May Have Led to NSO Group Downfall
One thought on “Hacking US Diplomats in Uganda May Have Led to NSO Group Downfall”
I spent my formative years growing up in Uganda. It is a beautiful country with some of the most welcoming and generous cultures on the planet, and deserves better than the authoritarian autocracy that supplanted Idi Amin’s disastrous misrule. It is truly heartbreaking, as Uganda is capable of being so much more https://kabiza.com/why-is-uganda-called-the-pearl-of-africa/.
That said, NSO appear to put the blame for hacking on the US diplomatic staff on the Ugandans (at least President Museveni’s son), for capitalising on the ability to ‘hack any phone in the world’, ie using the Pegasus product as advertised. They cannot have it both ways.
Nor is this the only indicator of strategic blunders to come from the Netanyahu administration in recent days https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/12/07/retired-israeli-general-pushing-iran-deal-exit-worst-strategic-mistake-in-israels-history/.
Apple have state-level resources with which to go after NSO, which they need to do in order to protect their brand of security on iOS devices. NSO, profiteering in the outsourcing of their state spy-craft to some of the world’ most disreputable and repressive authoritarian regimes otherwise lacking such capacity, gives mercenaries a bad name.
While it is not clear that the right message will be conveyed, here is to hoping that Apple and the US government succeed in burying the company, and at least giving pause to similar enterprises run by former intelligence contractors worldwide.