The NSO Group builds tools that let people hack into the most popular smartphones and record calls and gather other data. While its tools are used by governments to help track down and stop terrorists, the company has been under fire for providing tech to governments that was then used to target 174 activists, journalists, lawyers, and others in abusive ways, including staff at Amnesty International. Now the New York Times is reporting that NSO is hacking people to show off their skills to potential clients. The Times says that to secure a new deal from top Emirati officials, NSO hacked the phone of the editor of a London-based Arab newspaper and provided two recordings of phone calls to the Emirati officials in a followup email.
All the above actions have resulted in two lawsuits against the company by individuals targeted using NSO’s tech. For its part, NSO claims that it only sells its tech to governments, which agree to deploy it only against criminals. But NSO says what else governments choose to do with their tech is out of their hands. But the Times revelations that NSO is actively hacking journalists to win contracts clearly puts a dent in that argument.
Read more about NSO Group in our feature from last year, and about the company’s links with former Trump national security advisor Lt. Gen Michael Flynn.