November 01, 2019

Facebook Owned WhatsApp Files Lawsuit Against Israeli Company NSO Group For Hacking, Spying On Its Users

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


Facebook-owned WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against Israel's NSO Group in the United States District Court Northern District Of California, alleging that the company was behind cyber-attacks which hacked and infected smart phones as well as other devices with malicious spyware.

The NSO Group has been accused by WhatsApp of sending spyware or malware to approximately 1,400 mobile phones belonging to human rights activists, political dissidents as well as diplomats all across the world, subjecting them to surveillance.

Incidentally, activist and senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has also announced plans to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)) in the Supreme Court of India, seeking an investigation by cyber experts into illegal mass surveillance by means of hacking into WhatsApp accounts of hundreds of human rights activists, lawyers as well as journalists across India.

Bhushan has stated that the central government would be asked to come clean about whose phones were tapped and who ordered the spying operation using Pegasus, which is a piece of software created by an Israeli company called NSO Group, which can spy on WhatsApp accounts.

In a court filing accessible here by clicking on this hyperlink, WhatsApp has stated that the NSO Group “developed their malware in order to access messages and other communications after they were decrypted on target devices”.

It has alleged that the NSO Group created several WhatsApp accounts and caused the malicious code to be transmitted over WhatsApp servers during April and May.

WhatsApp has also sought a permanent injunction banning the NSO Group from using its service.

Earlier, WhatsApp global head Will Cathcart issued a statement that “After months of investigation, we can say who was behind this attack. We have filed a complaint in a federal court that explains what happened and attributes the intrusion to an international technology company called NSO Group”.

“We learned that the attackers used servers and Internet-hosting services that were previously associated with NSO. In addition, as our complaint notes, we have tied certain WhatsApp accounts used during the attacks back to NSO. While their attack was highly sophisticated, their attempts to cover their tracks were not entirely successful,” according to Cathart’s statement.

“There was another disturbing pattern to the attack, as our lawsuit explains. It targeted at least 100 human rights defenders, journalists and other members of civil society across the world,” the WhatsApp global head Will Cathcart’s statement read.

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