‘International Conspiracy, Some Listed Countries Not Our Clients’: NSO Group


New Delhi: Amid several media reports claiming Indian journalists as possible candidates for surveillance using ‘Pegasus’ spyware, the Israel-based NSO Group said that the allegation on it are ‘false and misleading’. 

As reported by news agency ANI, the private Israeli Cyber security firm in a statement on Monday said that the reports published in this matter have no factual basis and the company is considering a defamation lawsuit.

“The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the unidentified sources have supplied information that has no factual basis and are far from reality,” reads the statement. 

“After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report. Their sources have supplied them with information that has no factual basis, as evident by the lack of supporting documentation for many of their claims. In fact, these allegations are so outrageous and far from reality, that NSO is considering a defamation lawsuit,” the company said. 

ALSO READ | ‘No Unauthorised Interception, Bereft Of Facts’: Centre On ‘Pegasus Project’ Media Report

On being asked if the Government of India purchased Pegasuss software or contracted the firm to work with any other entity associated with the GoI, the NSO Group responsed saying, “the list of countries that we sell Pegasus to is confidential information. I cannot speak about specific customers but the list of countries in this story is totally incorrect some are not even our clients.”

Alleging that developmnet is an ‘international conspiracy,’ NSO Group emphasised that entire idea of Pegasus is to fight terror and crime and those that buy these services are trying to break terror outfights that use end to end encryptions.

40 Indian journalists potential targets for surveillance

The statement has come in response of serious allegations raised against the company for allegedly tracking and tapping phone numbers of more than 40 Indian journalists using spyware ‘Pegasus. On Sunday, the Wire in its report claimed forensic tests have confirmed some of these Indian journalists were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware.

According to the report, the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance includes “numbers of top journalists at big media houses like the Hindustan Times, including executive editor Shishir Gupta, India Today, Network18, The Hindu and Indian Express.”

Centre’s response on ‘Pegasus Project’ media report

Taking a note of the development, the Central government defended saying the news report appears to be a “fishing expedition, based on conjectures and exaggerations to malign the Indian democracy and its institutions.”

“Government of India’s response to a Right to Information application about the use of Pegasus has been prominently reported by media and is in itself sufficient to counter any malicious claims about the alleged association between the Government of India and Pegasus,” the official statement read.

ALSO READ | Is Your Phone And WhatsApp Safe Against Pegasus? Know How To Avoid This Spyware

What is Pegasus spyware?

If your phone has been attacked by this spyware, it can access your end-to-end encrypted chats. According to research, Pegasus can see your messages, track your calls, and even track users’ app activity. Apart from this, it can also affect your location, and data of the video camera. The surprising thing is that after the phone is hacked with this spyware, the user does not even know. It can hack your device and get information about all the apps including WhatsApp.

The last time people in India heard about Pegasus spyware was in 2019, when some WhatsApp users received messages that Pegasus had hacked their phones. Those who fell victim to this spyware included many journalists and activists. It first came into the limelight in 2016, when an Arab activist received a suspicious message.

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