The NSO Group used WhatsApp to spread Pegasus spyware to dignitaries. Recently, there has been a new development. In an interview with The Guardian, WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart said that in 2019, foreign governments were accused of using NSO’s Pegasus spyware to carry out attacks. This included several senior officials related to U.S. national security as well as U.S. allies. Officials. At the same time, this caused the personal information leakage of 1,400 WhatsApp users, and the incident has also been sent to the court for processing. Cathcart said that after the investigation, it was found that the personal information leakage occurred in 2019 was consistent with the NSO. The victims at the time also included human rights activists and journalists.
Cathcart further stated that Pegasus was suspected of being used by foreign governments to hack the mobile phones of 37 people, including the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The cell phone numbers of these 37 people were among the 50,000 numbers that were exposed in 2016. The single name of the victim also included human rights activists, journalists, and politicians, but it is currently unknown whether there were any other hacked victims besides 37 people. people.
NSO strongly opposes the allegations of hacking activities and personal information leakage lists, insisting that these are “no evidence” and that the list contains a large number of people, and it cannot be confirmed that they were attacked by Pegasus. At the same time, NSO also pointed out the possibility that other tools on WhatsApp were being used by “pedophiles, terrorists, criminals” and so on.
Naturally, Cathcart will not accept NSO’s statement, and still insists that the list of 1,400 leaked users has a “high chance” to be the target of attack. Considering that Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, is suing NSO, it may be one of their strategies to declare a statement that is beneficial to them. In the end, it depends on the court’s ruling.