Israel firm NSO says Macron not targeted by Pegasus spyware – News Vibe24

    Israel firm NSO says Macron not targeted by Pegasus spyware - Times of India
    HERZLIYA: An official of the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group said on Wednesday that the controversial Pegasus spyware tool was not used to target French President Emmanuel Macron.
    The comments came as Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged Israel to suspend exports of espionage technology after heads of state – including Macron – and dozens of journalists and rights activists appeared on a list of alleged targets.
    We can “come out in particular and say with certainty that the president of France, Macron, was not the target,” Chaim Gelfand, chief compliance officer at NSO Group, told i24 News.
    But he also referred to “some cases where it was reported that we are not so comfortable”, noting that in such cases the company “usually approaches the customer and has a very long discussion … to try to understand what his legitimate reasons were, if exists to use the system. ”
    Gelfand’s comments came a day after RSF chief Christophe Deloire called on Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to “impose an immediate moratorium on exports of surveillance technology until a protective regulatory framework is in place.”
    Deloire’s call came after a leak of a list of about 50,000 phone numbers believed to have been selected by NSO Group customers. The numbers included Macron and 13 other heads of state.
    Pegasus can break into cell phones without the user knowing, allowing customers to read every message, track a user’s location, and use the phone’s camera and microphone.
    The NSO has contracts with 45 countries and states that the Israeli Ministry of Defense must approve its agreements. The company does not identify its customers.
    However, the rights group, Amnesty International and the Paris-based Forbidden Stories, which received the list, said NSO government clients include Bahrain, India, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia.
    Media reports, including The Guardian, Le Monde and The Washington Post, found that nearly 200 journalists from organizations, including AFP, were on the list.
    “The ability of governments to install spyware that is actually used to track hundreds of journalists and their sources around the world poses a major democratic problem,” Deloir said.
    Representatives for Bennett and Secretary of Defense Benny Gantz did not respond to questions from AFP on Wednesday.
    NSO, an Israeli tech giant, is based in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, and employs 850 people.
    Its CEO, Shalev Hulio, 39, denied in an interview with Israel’s 103FM radio on Tuesday that his company was involved in mass surveillance.
    He said the NSO had no “connection” to the list of thousands of phone numbers.
    On Wednesday, Bennett addressed Israel’s technological capability at a cyber-conference in Tel Aviv.
    “Of every $ 100 invested in cyber defense around the world, $ 41 of that was invested in Israeli cyber defense companies,” he said.
    “We as a government, as a nation, must defend ourselves,” Bennett added.
    He suggested that global interest in Israeli technology remained strong, adding that “dozens of countries” had signed memoranda of understanding to acquire Israeli tools to defend themselves against cyber attacks.
    Another NSO statement on Wednesday claimed that the company was the victim of a “vicious and slanderous campaign” and would no longer answer media questions.
    “Any claim that a name on the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or a potential Pegasus target is false and false,” he said.
    “NSO is a technology company. We do not operate the system, nor do we have access to our customers’ data, but they are obliged to provide us with such information under investigation,” the company added.
    On Tuesday, Gandz said Israel approved the export of technology only to governments “solely for the purpose of preventing and investigating crime and terrorism.”
    He said Israel was “studying” recent publications on the subject.

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