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FBI Investigates Israeli Spyware Company After Cyber Attacks on U.S. Tech Firm, Civilians

2 mins read

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the connection between NSO Group Technologies, an Israeli spyware company, and recent intelligence and cybersecurity incidents involving governments and American corporations and civilians, according to four people knowledgeable about the investigation, Reuters reported Friday.

In May 2018, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone began sending out an unusually high amount of data for months after receiving a video from a WhatsApp account associated with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In a report compiled last November, FTI Consulting cited NSO’s Pegasus and Hacking Team’s Galileo spyware as being capable of extracting information.

FTI Consulting, which was hired by Amazon to assess the situation, also stated that the incident was conducted “possibly via tools procured by Saud al Qahtani,” who was a known friend of the crown prince as well as the president of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, at the time Bezos’ phone was hacked.

Last October, Facebook filed a lawsuit against NSO for allegedly hacking 1.4K Facebook users through a vulnerability in Facebook’s WhatsApp instant messaging platform, according to two people who spoke about the subject with agents or Department of Justice personnel. NSO said that it was not aware of any inquiry by U.S. law enforcement regarding Facebook.

NSO’s website states that its spyware is intended to investigate terrorism and help governments keep the public safe. The FBI is attempting to ascertain whether government officials of the U.S. or allied countries have been hacked through the use of NSO software as well as which nations perpetrated the cyber attacks.

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