Reuters reports that at least nine iPhones belonging to US State Department officials have been compromised by an unknown attacker using spyware developed by Israel’s NSO Group. This information was confirmed by four sources at once.
According to two sources, the hacks that have occurred in the past few months have affected either US officials in Uganda or people dealing with that country’s affairs in East Africa. Previously, NSO-based spyware had already featured in the news with potential targets, including US officials, but it was unclear if hacking attempts had been made or if they were successful.
The NSO Group said in a statement that the company has no confirmation that their tools were used to hack. However, the company has revoked access for the relevant customers and will investigate based on a request from Reuters.
If our investigation shows that these actions really happened with NSO tools, such a client will be permanently blocked and legal proceedings will begin. NSO will also cooperate with any relevant government agency and provide full information that we have.
It is not yet known who carried out this attack against the employees of the US State Department, but it is known that NSO Group sells its products to government law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies. However, the company itself is not directly involved in surveillance operations. NSO Group software has been used repeatedly to hack smartphones of government officials, journalists, activists, academics and embassies.
It is the largest cyberattack on US government officials, but neither the State Department nor officials from the Ugandan Embassy in Washington have yet issued a statement.
Formerly a company Apple sues Israel’s NSO Group and its parent companyto hold them accountable for spying and harassing Apple users.