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Israeli spy firm seeks to polish its business image



London-it’s been two years since NSO Group executives last spoke publicly.


In this report, published by the British newspaper The Telegraph, author James Cook said that before the co-founders and London-based private equity firm Novalpina Capital acquired NSO in 2019-the Israeli cyber espionage company behind the world’s leading spyware Pegasus – the Tel Aviv-based electronic mercenary company was prevented from owning a website or talking to journalists.


The Israeli mercenary company learned after some activist groups – including Amnesty International and the Toronto – based academic Citizen Lab-said they had uncovered evidence of abuse of the company’s tools.in December, setzen Lab said 36 Al Jazeera journalists had their phones hacked using the company’s Pegasus software.


Today, its chief executive Shalev holio, according to the British Daily Telegraph, is seeking to make up for lost time, as the newspaper quoted him as saying in a call from his office on the zoom platform, “I truly believe that we have nothing to hide,” noting that “this market is full of misunderstandings, conspiracy theories, and civic myths about (NSO).”


In his article published by The Telegraph, the author stated that Pegasus spyware, the company’s flagship product, allows customers to intercept messages using the target’s phone number without the victim discovering it.


Privacy activists and security researchers claim that some NSO agents used the software to spy on human rights activists and journalists. Perhaps the most serious of these allegations intercept messages Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed in 2018, but Holly, denied any police involvement in his murder.


The writer noted that the concerns raised by the spyware created a rare alliance between some of the world’s largest tech companies, with companies-including Google and Microsoft – backing an ongoing legal battle launched by WhatsApp against the NSO.


NSO is currently facing a U.S. lawsuit filed by WhatsApp, which alleges that the Israeli company hacked 1,400 accounts of its users in two weeks in 2019.

NSO’s lawyers denounced this prosecution on the grounds that the company “creates electronic solutions that NSO itself does not use, and that the only users of these products are its customers and are sovereign foreign countries”.


Holio now hopes to collaborate with activists to shape the rules of how electronic mercenary companies work, and he believes that “the best thing they can do is to enter into a conversation and create global standards for how electronic intelligence works.. That way, NSO may emerge from its secret past to become a global cybersecurity company, but the controversy around it is not over yet.


“I am ready to talk to any party, any human rights organization, an NGO, a research organization, or a university that is willing to talk to us,”he said.


The NSO’s attempt to create a more friendly image involves expanding into less controversial areas, such as anti-drone programs and search and rescue systems.


A week ago, the NSO team introduced a system called Eclipse anti-drone that can detect aircraft in sensitive areas and deliver them safely to the ground by penetrating control systems and directing them towards the landing zone.


Concerns of misuse

The NSO says the Pegasus system has become a vital tool for governments that would not be able to intercept terrorists ‘ messages without using it, according to the British newspaper.


Insiders say NSO is investigating allegations of abuse of its tools. In January, the company told The Telegraph that it had recently banned its customers who were found to have misused the spyware Pegasus.


Beyond Pegasus

NSO hopes that focusing on products other than Pegasus will help improve its image. One such technology is smartphone tracking technology in the wake of earthquakes.


For his part, yushai Manov, NSO vice president and commander of an Israeli search and Rescue Unit, said a team of On-Call personnel would be available 24/7 to intervene in any search and rescue operation. It also confirms that the company has developed a tool that can be used to find people trapped under rubble by measuring the signal strength of smart phones.


The sitzenlab team, however, criticized NSO’s rescue technology, saying it was in fact a surveillance system that could locate smartphones around the world, while the Israeli company denied these claims.


The writer added that the NSO’s attempt to polish its public image by focusing on search and rescue efforts and initiatives such as the adoption of NSO-branded trucks roaming the streets of Israel to collect donations to charities did not impress activists.


“As long as the company continues to pursue growth, the damage it causes will increase rapidly,” says John Scott Railton, senior researcher at sitzenlab. And they don’t seem willing to address this problem directly, so they’re trying to remake their brand.”


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