According to media reports, human rights activists, journalists, and attorneys all around the world have been targeted by phone spyware supplied to authoritarian countries by an Israeli surveillance business.
They were leaked to major news sources from a list of up to 50,000 phone numbers of persons considered to be of interest to NSO clients.
It’s unclear where the list originated, or who’s phones were truly hacked.
NSO denies any misconduct on its part.
It claims the software is only available to military, law enforcement, and intelligence organizations from nations with excellent human rights records, and that it is designed for use against criminals and terrorists.
It claimed in a statement that the initial study by the Paris-based NGO Forbidden Stories and the human rights organization Amnesty International, which led to the reports, was “full of incorrect assumptions and uncorroborated hypotheses.”
The Washington Post, the Guardian, Le Monde, and 14 other media outlets across the world published claims regarding the use of Pegasus software on Sunday.
Pegasus infects iPhones and Android devices, giving operators access to messages, pictures, and emails, as well as the ability to record calls and surreptitiously activate microphones.
More than half of the phones with numbers on the list showed signs of malware, according to forensic testing.
Around 180 journalists from Agence France-Presse, CNN, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, and other news organizations are believed to be on the list.
They also include two women who were connected to Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, as well as Cecilio Pineda Brito, a Mexican journalist who was slain at a carwash.
Heads of state and administration, members of Arab royal families, and corporate leaders are among those on the long list.