Apple, Meta sue NSO Group for Pegasus spyware attacks

Apple said Friday that it’s filing a lawsuit against Israel-based NSO Group, a cyber intelligence company that creates surveillance technology used by government agencies supposedly to track terrorism, trafficking, and criminal threats, among other things.

According to the lawsuit, Apple claims NSO Group targeted Apple users by infecting devices with its Pegasus spyware. Pegasus could be installed via a now-blocked exploit referred to as FORCEDENTRY, and leaves no trace on host devices. NSO clients reportedly include authoritarian governments, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, and Mexico; and earlier iterations of Pegasus software have been deployed on journalists, activists, human rights defenders, political dissidents, academics, and state officials.

Apple is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO from using Apple’s products or services, which would make it far more difficult for the group to identify any vulnerabilities or future points of entry on Apple devices, or to engineer bypasses for Apple’s built-in “firewall” system, BlastDoor.

The move follows in the footsteps of Facebook parent company Meta, which sued NSO Group in 2019 for infecting its WhatsApp service with Pegasus spyware.

Apple also said it would donate $10 million to “organizations pursuing cybersurveillance research and advocacy,” such as Citizen Lab and Amnesty Tech, which have exposed recent attacks carried out by Pegasus.