Apple filed a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California against Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its parent company, OSY Technologies, on Tuesday.
In addition to the lawsuit, Apple wants to ban NSO from using any Apple products — software, service or device to prevent further abuse. The company alleges that NSO Group has created more than 100 fake Apple ID users to carry out its attacks. While its servers weren’t hacked, NSO manipulated them to target Apple users.
The iPhone maker isn’t the first company to hold NSO accountable. A number of governments and private companies, including but not limited to Microsoft, Meta, Alphabet and Cisco, have either criticised or initiated legal action against NSO. Apple’s lawsuit comes after U.S officials placed NSO on a trade blocklist earlier this month.
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NSO losing wings?
The complaint filed by Apple states that NSO’s products aren’t ordinary off the shelf malware. Instead, “They permit attacks, including from sovereign governments that pay hundreds of millions of dollars to target and attack a tiny fraction of users with information of particular interest to NSO’s customers.”
Going as far as calling NSO “the antithesis of what Apple represents in terms of security and privacy” is a little bit ironic for the iPhone maker considering the failure of its ATT feature, which was marketed as a significant change to privacy but failed to make any impact whatsoever to how iOS apps tracked people.
An NSO spokesperson, on the other hand, has defended the company saying the group only sells its software to governments and law enforcement agencies and that they have helped save thousands of lives.
While NSO maintains that it sells tools to clients, Apple has also alleged that the Israeli spyware company was directly involved in providing consulting services to the attacks.
Apple has also said that it’ll be donating $10 million in addition to any damages recovered in the lawsuit to cybersecurity research groups, including Citizen Labs — a University of Toronto research group that first discovered NSO’s attacks in action.
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